HMO Licensing

HMO Licensing; What is it and Do I Need It?

Types of HMO Licensing; Mandatory & Additional

Do I Need An HMO License?

How To Get An HMO Licence?

HMO Licensing: What Is It and Do I Need it?

HMO Licensing, enacted in 2006 through the Housing Act of 2004, is the legal system used in the UK, by a local authority or council, to prescribe standards of safety and amenity, and decide the suitability for occupation, of a licensable HMO property.

It is achieved throughout England & Wales by considering the maximum number of households or persons which can live at a property, by citing the Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006, schedule 3.

In general, it provides standards such as:

  • heating requirements.
  • washing facilities.
  • kitchens.
  • units of living accommodation without shared basic amenity.
  • to provide additional bathrooms or personal washing facilities.
  • to provide kitchen facilities for the exclusive use of the occupant(s) of designated rooms.

With respect to licensing only, a property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) if both of the following apply:

  • at least three tenants live there, forming more than one household.
  • you share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants.

A property is deemed a large HMO if both of the following apply:

  • at least five tenants live there, forming more than one household.
  • you share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants.

A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together.  A family includes people who are:

  • married or living together – including people in same-sex relationships.
  • relatives or half-relatives, for example, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings.
  • step-parents and step-children.

Source Gov.Uk

Types of HMO Licensing Schemes: Mandatory & Additional

Mandatory Licensing is a scheme covering the whole of England and Wales.

An HMO is deemed to need a mandatory license if:

  1. It Is occupied by 3 or more persons; or
  2. It Is occupied by persons living in two or more separate households; and
  3. It meets:
    1. The standard test; or
    2. The self-contained test but is not a purpose-built flat situated in a block comprising 3 or more self-contained flats; or
    3. The converted buildings test.

Source Legislation.Gov.Uk

Additional Licensing is a scheme covering some parts of England and Wales, where a local authority can impose a licence on other categories of HMOs in its area which are not subject to mandatory licensing.

The local authority can do this if it considers that a significant proportion of these HMOs are being managed sufficiently ineffectively so as to give rise to one or more particular problems, either for the occupants of the HMOs or for members of the public.

A HMO is deemed to need an additional license if:
  1. It is situated in an area the local authority has designated subject to additional licensing.

Do I Need An HMO License?

If the property meets any of the mandatory licensing criteria then Yes, you need the appropriate license to operate a house of multiple occupation (HMO).

If the property doesn’t meet the mandatory criteria it may still need an HMO license if it is located in an area of additional licensing.

Check with if your property meets these criteria by checking with your local council.

We have also created this handy flow chart to allow you to understand if you require an HMO licence.

Check Out Our Free HMO Licensing Flow Chart

What happens if you don’t have an HMO License?

Any person operating a licensable HMO on or after 1 October 2018, requires a licence. Any person who fails to apply for the appropriate licence (or a temporary exemption) before 1 October will be committing a criminal offence.

Furthermore, the penalties for operating an unlicensed HMO property can include a prosecution brought by the local authority with unlimited fines imposed if found guilty or a financial penalty of up to £30,000.

Other penalties could include rent repayment orders brought by tenants or the local authority, and a prohibition on serving a valid section 21 notice to seek possession of the property. Repeat offenders may also be subject to banning orders and risk being placed on the rogue landlord database.

How To Get An HMO Licence?

Each local planning authority or council has its own different forms and procedures for making an HMO licence application.

1. Understand the Local Authorities Requirements

To find out who your local planning authority or council is, go to our page on HMO Licensing by LPA.

The details of the application process and the standards that the local authority is required to consider when granting a licence are set out in sections 63-68 Housing Act 2004 and the Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006.

Most application forms are available through the local authority’s website. Once the form is completed it should be returned with the appropriate fee. If an application is made and it transpires that the property is not actually a licensable HMO then the licence application fee is fully refundable. Once an application is duly made then no offence for operating an unlicensed HMO can be committed.

2. Assess The Property

You can now survey the property to understand the current layout, room sizes, amenities and points of compliance that are required in order to determine the works that may need to be addressed.

3. Identify the Works Required

Now you understand the local authority requirements, and have also carried out a survey, you can now identify the differences between them. This will allow you generate a schedule of works to bring the property up to current licensable standard.

4. Apply For The Licence

At this point now that you understand the works required, we recommend you apply for the HMO licence. Sometimes councils have lengthy waiting times for HMO licensing applications and so we find it beneficial to get this part of the process done without delay, rather than after the works have been completed.

5. Complete the works

Here you complete all necessary works required to bring the property up to current HMO licensing standards.

6. Obtain an HMO Licence

That’s it, assuming all being well, you should be in receipt (after a wait from the local authority), of a new HMO Licence. Typically they last for 5 years and are not transferrable.

If you wish to gain some independent help with HMO licensing then you can check out our other content on HMO licensing or see the HMO directory to find an HMO Licensing company to help guide you through the licensing process or even do it all for you.

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