Who needs a licence and how to apply
Who needs a licence
In October 2018, Central Government changed the scope of mandatory HMO licensing to include smaller HMOs.
All HMOs occupied by five or more people forming two or more households (where facilities are shared) require a mandatory HMO licence.
The situation is slightly different for purpose built flats (those that were originally built as flats – not converted into flats).
- if a purpose built flat is occupied by five or more people, and it's in a block comprising of up to two flats, it will be licensable
- if a purpose built flat is occupied by five or more people, and it's in a block comprising three or more flats, it will not be licensable
Mandatory licensing applies to flats such as those above shops on traditional high street type locations, but not large purpose built blocks of flats.
Temporary Exemption Notice
If you’ve bought a property currently being used as an HMO, but you wish to stop this (for example, to change it back to a single family home), you’ll need to apply for a Temporary Event Notice in the meantime.
This 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.
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.
The fees from 1 April 2019 are:
- new licence - £685 (up to ten rooms, plus £39.37 for every additional habitable room)
- renewal licence* - £596 (up to ten rooms, plus £39.37 for every additional habitable room)
*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.
Before you apply
Before applying for a licence you should consider carefully who is to be proposed as the licence holder and manager. In the majority of 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 agent or manager applies on behalf of the owner, and
- where a director of a company applies on behalf of a company that owns a property
We're obliged to ensure that the person who holds the licence is, out of all the persons reasonably available, the most appropriate person. 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. But it's usually the person who's in receipt of the rent for the property (or may be an agent thereof).
Apply for a licence
You can apply for a licence online.
To apply for an HMO licence you'll need to:
- be over 18
And 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)
- a site plan showing the boundaries of the property and the points of entrance and exit (1:100 or 1:200 scale)
- a credit or debit card for the fee
- proof of address for the proposed licence holder, and the manager if appropriate (for example, a driving licence or recent utility bill)
- the current Gas Safety Record (if there is gas at the property)
- the current Electrical Installation Condition Report
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.
Please note; 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)
In certain circumstances we may inform you that we intend to refuse to grant the licence on the terms proposed. But we'll seek to come to a mutual agreement regarding these different terms. For example, this may be where a proposed manager is not the appropriate person to be a manager.
Once we’ve made our decision, we’ll send you a licence proposal. You’ll have 14 days to make representations before we send the final licence.
When we issue a proposed licence, we'll also send all relevant persons notification of the proposal. Relevant persons will include anyone that may have 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. 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.