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FAQs

What is a HMO?

The acronym HMO stands for “House in Multiple Occupation”.

Your property is a HMO if 3 tenants or more form two households or more and share facilities (i.e. toilet, bathroom and/or kitchen)

Your property is a mandatory licensable HMO if:

  • It is a minimum of 3 storeys high
  • There are at least 5 tenants forming 2 households or more
  • Facilities (i.e. bathroom, toilet and/or kitchen) are shared

From 1st October 2018 1 and 2 stories properties are mandatory licensable too where there are at least 5 tenants forming 2 or more households.

What constitutes households?

Households are defined as either single individuals or multiple members of a family living together.

A family includes individuals who are:

  • Couples living together or married – including same-sex couples
  • Step-parents &step-children
  • Relatives and/or half-relatives, i.e. siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents

Who should apply?

Usually, a landlord or, if there are multiple landlords, joint landlords should apply for a HMO licence.

The council will, however, also accept applications from managing agents provided the landlord/s has/have been notified of the impending application.

An individual managing/controlling a licensable HMO commits an offence if he/she fails, without reasonable excuse, to apply for the licence. It is therefore in your own interest to promptly apply if a licence is required for your building.

How long do licences last for?

A licence normally lasts for five years maximum.

If necessary, the council may grant a licence with a shorter duration in some circumstances. You will usually be required to apply for your new licence before the licence period’s end.

Do I have to pay a licence fee and how much does it cost?

A licence fee is usually payable, unless a specific council has no charge.

Every local council will set its own licensing fees. Each individual council may in addition specify other conditions.

What basic fire-safety standards are required for HMOs?

Exact fire-safety requirements will vary, but here are some basics of what could be required:

  • An Automatic Fire Detection (AFD) System
  • Fire Doors
  • Fire Blankets & Fire Extinguishers
  • A ‘Fire Safety Risk Assessment’ under the 2005 Fire Safety Order if the holder/s of the licence is/are declared ‘competent’ person/s

What will be taken into account by the council when deciding whether to grant a HMO licence or not?

The council must consider the following factors:

  • The HMO’s suitability for the expected number of occupiers
  • Suitability of the HMO’s facilities, i.e. cooking facilities, bathrooms and toilets
  • The landlord and/or managing agent’s suitability to manage a HMO (this mainly with regards to whether the manager or landlord has relevant convictions and/or has acted in such a manner that would indicate her/his unsuitability to manage residential accommodation of this type)
  • General suitability of the managing arrangements

Once I have obtained the licence, what conditions do I have to comply with?

When you get your licence, there are certain conditions to ensure your building is kept up to the necessary, correct standard.

These mandatory conditions require you, the holder of the licence, to:

  • Produce annual gas safety certificates
  • Keep furniture and electrical appliances supplied by you/the landlord in safe working condition and supply (on demand) the local council with declarations of such furniture/electrical appliances’ safety
  • Install & keep smoke alarms in proper working order and supply, on demand, the local council with a declaration of the alarms’ positioning & condition
  • Give occupiers/tenants a statement detailing the terms under which they occupy your HMO

Every council will provide an outline of their specific conditions.

What documents do I need when applying for a HMO licence?

The following documents must be included in all new or renewal applications:

  • Property plans, annotated with all fire safety features’ locations and all rooms’ dimensions in metres
  • A valid, current gas safety certificate
  • A valid, current fire alarm test certificate
  • A valid current EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report)
  • PAT certificates for any electrical equipment supplied to tenants that is more than 12 months old
  • An energy performance certificate
  • A management agreement (for properties where the licence is not held by the owner)

License Types?

Mandatory HMO Licensing

  • All HMOs with three-storeys or more (changing to 1 story or more from 1st October 2018) and five people or more sharing facilities require mandatory licences; in force under the 2006 Housing Act

Additional HMO Licensing

  • This discretionary scheme can be adopted by the councils to help deal with HMO-associated problems that are not covered by mandatory licensing already

Selective Property Licensing

  • Selective property licensing schemes were introduced to help deal with certain areas’ issues
  • Within selective licensing zones, every privately rented property, regardless of its size and occupation, must be licensed
  • Selective licensing zones are areas or roads specifically chosen for licensing by the council

An agent manages my property - who carries the responsibility for getting a licence?

Unless otherwise agreed with your agent for him/her to hold the licence holder, you, the property’s owner, are responsible for applying for a licence.

What will happen if I fail to apply for a HMO licence?

Letting your HMO without a valid licence is a punishable offence and could result in an unlimited fine

Landlords letting out HMOs without a licence could also end up having to repay tenants up to a year’s (12 months) rent, as tenants of unlicensed HMOs can file for Rent Repayment Orders

You cannot serve tenants with notices of arrear or evict them under section 21

What will happen if I fail to comply with the conditions of my licence?

Failure to comply with conditions set by your licence could result in fines of up to £5,000 for each offence.

Does being an overseas landlord matter?

To ensure properties are compliant with their licence and meet necessary regulations, licence holders must be based within the UK.

Your licence can be held by a UK-based individual, charity or company, which means they will take on all legal responsibilities of ensuring your property complies with conditions/regulations throughout the duration of the licence.