Who needs a licence and how to apply
Who needs a licence
All Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) occupied by five or more people require an HMO licence (see below for general exemptions).
This is also the case for any single flat that is an HMO (unless it's a flat in a purpose built block of flats comprising three or more flats).
Who doesn’t need a licence
You generally don’t need a licence if the HMO is owned or managed by:
- a housing association
- a council
- a health authority
- the police
- the fire service
If you’re not sure whether you need a licence, please contact us for advice.
Temporary Exemption Notice
A Temporary Exemption Notice (TEN) will make your HMO exempt for three months. You should apply for a TEN if, for example, you’ve bought a property that is currently being used as an HMO, but you wish to stop this and change it back to a single family home. A TEN will make your HMO exempt for three months while you make changes to the property. In exceptional circumstances, we can issue a second notice for a further three months.
If you wish to apply for a TEN, please contact us.
A TEN will apply automatically if the licence holder dies or (if a company) ceases trading.
The licence fees will be calculated based on the number of bedrooms within the HMO (see table below).
Part 1 is for the processing of a licence application (to the point that a decision to licence is made) only
Part 2 is for the issuing of the licence and the ongoing inspection of the HMO over the period of the licence (which is 5 years)
|Number of bedrooms||Total fee||Part one fee||Part two fee|
*To apply for a renewal:
- your licence must still be in date
- you must be the current licence holder
If you wish to vary an existing licence, you can do so by completing our variation form. There is currently no fee for the variation of an HMO licence.
About the licence
You’ll need a separate licence for every HMO you rent out.
The licence is normally valid for a maximum of five years. But in certain circumstances we may consider a shorter duration more appropriate.
Before you apply
Before applying for a licence you should consider carefully who is to be proposed as the licence holder and manager. In most cases the matter is a simple one, whereby the owner of a property applies to be the licence holder and manager. Circumstances where this may not be the case include:
- where an owner resides abroad and wishes to have an agent or manager act as the licence holder, or
- where an owner is not suitable for reasons of competence or because the owner is not deemed to be fit and proper
We're obliged to ensure that the person who holds the licence is the most appropriate person out of all the persons reasonably available. This will always be the person having control of the property unless there are particular circumstances that make this inappropriate. The person having control of a property is defined by section 263 of the Housing Act 2004. This is usually the person who's in receipt of the rent for the property (but may include an agent).
Apply for a licence
You can apply for a licence online.
To apply for an HMO licence you'll need to provide:
- a scaled floor plan of each storey of the property showing the location and size of each room (1:50 scale, to include dimensions and room areas) also showing all fire precaution equipment and fire escape routes
- a credit or debit card for the fee
Please provide details of the permanent residential and business address of the applicant and proposed licence holder and manager (if they are different individuals). This can't be the address of the HMO to be licensed unless the HMO is the actual main (permanent) residence.
Evidence that we'll accept as proof of address is two of the following:
- current driver’s licence
- recent bank or building society statement (from the last three months)
- recent utility bill (from the last three months) – not a mobile telephone bill
- recent tax correspondence
We'll also need proof of identity by photographic ID (such as a passport or valid UK driving licence).
Clear copies of documents are accepted for both confirmation of address and confirmation of ID.
We'll allow up to seven days for the upload of documents following application. An application is not complete until all requirements have been met (and we may reject any application if not complete after this time). The date of application for legal purposes will be the date a complete application is received.
If you require any additional fit and proper person forms, you can access them by following our fit and proper person form link.
What happens next?
Once we’ve received your application and all supporting information, we’ll send you a letter to confirm the date your application became valid.
The date on which the application became valid is of importance. An incomplete application carries with it the same implications as there having been no application made.
If you don’t provide all the supporting information in time, your application won’t be valid. And you may be liable to penalties should you rent out your property as an HMO.
Once your application has been validated we’ll arrange an inspection of the property. And we’ll consider a number of things, including if the:
- proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to be the licence holder
- proposed manager has sufficient control of the property to be the manager
- proposed licence holder and manager are fit and proper persons
- management arrangements are satisfactory
- house is suitable for the proposed numbers of occupants (or can be made so by imposing conditions)
Where we consider the proposed arrangements are not satisfactory, we may seek to come to a mutual agreement regarding an alteration to the terms proposed. For example, this may be where a proposed manager is not considered to be an appropriate person to be the manager.
Once we’ve made our decision, (to either grant or refuse a licence), we’ll send all relevant persons a notification of our proposal. There will be a minimum of 14 days in which representations may be made before we issue notification of the final decision. All representations will be duly considered.
Relevant persons will include anyone that has an interest in the property, including any mortgage company or freeholder.
Should you wish to appeal, where a licence has been refused, or in relation to the terms of any licence granted, you can do so within 28 days of the notice being served. Please appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal.
Please note; tacit consent doesn’t apply to HMO licence applications. It's in the public interest that we process the application completely before it can be granted.
It’s an offence to operate an HMO:
- without a valid licence where one is legally required
- not in accordance with the terms and conditions of the licence
We'll consider taking action using our powers available. You could face:
- prosecution which carries an unlimited fine
- a civil penalty fine of up to £30,000
- a management order, where we may take over the management of the HMO
- rent repayment orders, where you may have to pay back up to 12 months of the rent you collected
For more information about the HMO reform, please download the GOV.UK website licensing reform document.
For general information about being a landlord, including repairs and maintenance responsibilities, please visit our information for landlords page.