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What Could Happen If You Run An Unlicensed HMO?

We are experts in HMO legislation and in securing HMO licenses and compliance for our clients.

Running an unlicensed House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) in the UK can have serious consequences for landlords. HMOs are a popular investment option as they can offer higher yields than traditional rental properties, but the additional complexity of running an HMO means it’s essential to get the planning and licensing right from the outset.

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What is an HMO?

An HMO is a property that is rented out to three or more tenants who are not part of the same household but share communal areas, such as a kitchen or bathroom. This can include bedsits, shared houses, and some flats. HMOs are a popular choice for students and young professionals as they can offer more affordable accommodation and the opportunity to socialize with others.

HMO Licensing

In the UK, all HMOs must be licensed by the local council. The licensing process involves a thorough inspection of the property to ensure that it meets certain standards for health and safety, and that the property is suitable for the number of tenants that will be living there.

To obtain an HMO license, you will need to provide detailed information about the property, including its size, layout, and facilities. You will also need to provide evidence that you are a suitable landlord and that you have taken steps to ensure the safety of your tenants, such as installing fire alarms and providing adequate escape routes in case of an emergency.

What could happen if you run an unlicensed HMO?

Running an unlicensed HMO can have serious consequences for landlords. Here are some of the potential risks:

Fines and penalties

If you are found to be running an unlicensed HMO, you could face fines and penalties. The penalties vary depending on the local council, but they can range from a few hundred pounds to tens of thousands of pounds. In some cases, you may also be required to pay back any rent you have received from your tenants.

Legal action

Running an unlicensed HMO could also result in legal action being taken against you. This could involve an injunction, which would require you to take certain steps to bring the property up to standard or stop operating the HMO altogether. In extreme cases, you could even face criminal charges.

Difficulty obtaining finance

If you have been found to be running an unlicensed HMO, this could make it difficult for you to obtain finance in the future. Lenders may view you as a higher risk and may be unwilling to offer you a mortgage or loan for future property investments.

Health and safety risks

Running an unlicensed HMO can also pose health and safety risks to your tenants. Without an HMO license, you may not be meeting the necessary standards for fire safety, sanitation, and general hygiene. This can put your tenants at risk and could result in legal action being taken against you if someone is injured or falls ill as a result of living in the property.

Damage to your reputation

Running an unlicensed HMO could also damage your reputation as a landlord. This could make it difficult for you to attract tenants in the future, or to find reliable tradespeople and professionals to work with. A tarnished reputation can be difficult to recover from, and could impact your long-term success as a property investor.


Running an unlicensed HMO can have serious consequences for landlords in the UK. Not only could you face fines and legal action, but you could also be putting your tenants at risk and damaging your reputation as a landlord. It’s essential to obtain the necessary licenses and to ensure that your HMO meets all health and safety standards. If you’re unsure about the process, seek the advice of a professional HMO management company or a planning consultant who can guide you through the process and help you to prepare the necessary documents and plans.

We are one such HMO professional management company with a healthy reputation within the industry. Why not talk to us today? You can call us right now on 0203 950 8834 or email us at

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