Licence - House in Multiple Occupancy

Certain larger HMOs, such as bedsits and shared houses, are subject to mandatory licensing.

Do I need a licence?

If you are the owner or manager of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), you will require a licence from the Council if:

It is rented to 5 or more people who form more than 1 household, some or all tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities, at least 1 tenant pays rent (or their employer pays it for them)

If your property is rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 'household' (for example a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen.  It's sometimes called a 'house share'.  You may not have a HMO licence; however you will still need to meet licence conditions.

If you want to rent out your property as a house in multiple occupancy you must contact the Council to check if you need a licence.

If the HMO is a self-contained flat, within a block of at least 3 or more flats - the property will not require a licence.

Licences cannot be transferred to another property or to a different person.  If circumstances change, a new licence would be needed.

It is an offence not to license a HMO where a licence is required.  The penalty for not licensing a HMO can be an unlimited fine and the previous year’s rent can be re-claimed by any tenant (or the Council where housing benefit is paid).  This is called a rent repayment order.  Alternatively, you could receive a Civil/Financial Penalty from the Council up to £30,000 per offence.

Licence applications must be made to the Council.  A fee will be charged for a 5 year licence in accordance with the Council's Fees and Charges

Licences will be granted if:

  • All persons with an interest do not object to the licence (i.e. owner or mortgage company).
  • The house is or can be made suitable for multiple occupation.
  • The applicant is a fit and proper person (i.e. no relevant convictions) and the most appropriate person to hold the licence and he/she lives in the UK.
  • The proposed manager has control of the house, and is a fit and proper person to be the manager and lives in the UK.
  • The management arrangements are satisfactory.

Conditions can be attached to a licence and the property will be inspected by the local authority during the licence period.

Are there any exceptions to the licence requirements?

There are some exceptions to the licence requirements for properties owned or managed by public services such as the Police, Fire Service and NHS (a nursing home is not a HMO).  Other exceptions include properties owned or managed by a church or owned and managed by an educational institution for the occupation of its students only.

If you intend to stop renting a property or to reduce the number of occupants, then you may apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice that lasts for a maximum of 3 months (instead of a full licence).  You may apply for a secondary notice after this period, however, if the issue is still not resolved after this notice runs out then the property must be licensed or become subject to an Interim Management Order.  Please contact our Housing Standards Team on 01785 619000 or emailing to find out more.  

How do I apply for a licence?

Licence applications must be made by applying online.  It is the owner’s responsibility to apply for a licence and to wait for its approval before letting out the property to 5 or more persons who form more than one family. 

Renewing a HMO license

Applications to renew an existing HMO license should be submitted two months before the existing license expires. We need to know about any changes that may have occurred. You will need to provide updated information about your status as a 'fit and proper' person to act as the license holder.

In most cases the new license will last for a further five years. Licenses may however be granted for shorter periods where there are any concerns

Can I get a refund on a licence?

Refunds of licence fees are not normally given as the fees cover the cost of us processing the application.  Only in exceptional circumstances, subject to the Health and Housing Manager's decision, will a refund be considered.  Any refunds given may be subject to an administration charge.

Can I appeal against conditions or refusal to issue/vary a licence?

If you have an issue, please contact the Housing Standards Team in the first instance on 01785 619000 or by emailing

You may appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) regarding conditions attached to a licence or any decision to vary or revoke a licence.  Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made. Details of the local office will be included in the notes attached to the licence issued.

What if I am worried about how a HMO is being managed?

If you are concerned about the condition of a property contact the Housing Standards Team on 01785 619000 who will be able to discuss and advise on this matter.

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