What is a house in multiple occupation?
A house in multiple occupation (HMO) can be a:
- house divided into bedsits with a shared kitchen and/or bathroom
- shared house where the tenants do not occupy it as a typical family would
- house converted into self-contained flats
- hotel or accommodation being used as a hostel to house a group of people with a common need, usually on a short term basis e.g. homeless persons, unaccompanied minors, asylum seekers, ex-offenders, semi-independent living schemes etc.
If you rent out a property as an HMO, you may have to acquire a licence from the local authority.
You are also advised that planning permission may be required for changes to the property or changes to the use of the property. Please contact the planning department to obtain advice on planning permission.
What criteria must HMOs meet for licensing?
Anyone who owns or manages an HMO which is occupied by five or more persons and is three or more storeys in height needs a mandatory licence.
Anyone who owns or manages an HMO which is occupied by three or more persons and is any height needs an additional licence.
We will give you a licence if we are satisfied that the:
- HMO is reasonably suitable for occupation by the number of people expected
- proposed licence holder is a 'fit and proper person'
- proposed manager, if there is one, is a 'fit and proper person'
- proposed management arrangements are satisfactory
- HMO manager is competent
- financial structures for the management are suitable.
Guidance notes on fire safety and other requirements
See the Safety inspections guidance notes and other requirements (such as lighting space and number of bathrooms) of HMO properties, by following the link under the 'Related information' section at the bottom of this page.
Do HMOs have to be licensed with the council?
Yes, HMOs require a licence so that we can control and monitor standards.
We make sure that the building:
- is safe
- is in good repair
- has enough smoke detectors
- has appropriate fire exits
- has enough sinks, cookers, baths and toilets for the tenants.
What is the cost of licensing?
The fee calculator at the bottom of this page gives the costs depending on the number of rooms and/or self-contained units at the property so you can calculate the price of the HMO licence application.
If you have more than 10 units the cost per unit is given at the top of the fee calculator, up to a maximum fee of £4500 per property.
If you are varying an existing licence there is a flat rate fee of £300 with the 25% reduction for accredited landlords and 50% reduction for registered charities
The HMO licence fee must accompany your licence application otherwise your application will be deemed incomplete and the licence will not be processed. You can make payment by cheque, attached to your application or credit/debit card by calling Miriam Bradley on 020 8726 6100 extension 63837. Please note there is a surcharge of 1.65% if you pay by credit card. There is no surcharge for debit cards.
How do I get a licence?
Complete and submit the application form, which can be found under the 'Apply for it' section above. You will need to send us the correct payment before your application is processed. If you need help with calculating the fees please contact us before you submit your application. You will also need to post the supporting documents to us.
You can pay online via the link in the 'Pay for it' section above. Please note if you apply this way, you will also need to complete the 'Supplementary Application Form' which can be found in the 'Downloads' section at the bottom of this page. If you choose this option you can also download the supporting documents.
How long does it take to get a licence?
Applications are normally processed within eight weeks providing you have included all of the relevant information we require. There is a checklist on the application form of what you need to provide. Incomplete applications will not be processed until we have all of the required documents.
It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application fully before a licence can be granted. Tacit consent does not apply. If you have not heard from us within eight weeks of submitting your application please contact us, details are at the bottom of the page.
Can I check to see whether a property is licensed with the council?
Details of all licensed and registered HMOs are held in the public register and can be viewed by appointment during normal office hours. An electronic version of the register is also available that can be sent out by email on request.
Housing Standards and Enforcement Team
3rd floor zone D
Bernard Weatherill House
8 Mint walk
- HMO Licensing Booklet - July 2010 [496.3KB]
- HMO licence application form [619.4KB]
- Housing Health and Safety Rating System Information [201.8KB]
- HMO fee calculator 2012-2013-revised [16.6KB]
- How to draw a floor plan [936.8KB]
- Supplementary Application Form for Licence for House in Multiple Occupation [122.8KB]