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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

Do I need a HMO licence?

Any property that is occupied by five or more people who live as more than one household needs a HMO licence.

This includes:

  • flats in multiple occupation, situated above or below a business
  • a purpose-built flat in a building containing up to two self-contained flats, and one or both are occupied as a HMO
  • a building or part of a building which has been converted to living accommodation
  • an owner-occupied property, where the owner lives in the property and rents out their home to three or more tenants, and the total number of occupiers at the property is five or more

If you own or manage a HMO that must be licensed, it is your responsibility to apply to us for a licence.

Operating a licensable HMO without a licence is an offence, which can result in a criminal conviction and an unlimited financial penalty.

Which HMOs do not need a licence?

Some shared accommodation does not need to be licensed. These properties are:

  • Purpose-built flats in a building containing three or more self-contained flats
  • A building or part of a building that has been converted into blocks of flats where the conversion works did not comply with the appropriate building standards, and still do not comply with them, and less than two thirds of the self-contained flats are owner occupied. (These properties are known as ‘Section 257 flats' and are covered by The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007
  • A property occupied by an owner (and their family) who rents out their home to a maximum of two other occupiers, where the total number of occupiers (including the owner’s family) is less than five
  • Where a person receiving care and their carer occupy living accommodation in the same building or part of a building, forming a single household. The carer is an adult placement carer approved under the Adult Placement Schemes (England) Regulations 2004(1) and provides care in that living accommodation for up to three people under the terms of a scheme permitted by those Regulations
  • Certain other properties operated by official organisations, such as registered care and nursing homes and properties owned or managed by a local Council housing authority; a registered social landlord; the NHS; police; or a co-operative
  • Student accommodation where the property conforms to an approved code of practice such as the Student Accommodation Code or Accreditation Network UK (ANUK)/Unipol. See also The Houses in Multiple Occupation (Specified Educational Establishments) (England) Regulations 2016)
  • Any building occupied for the purposes of a religious community whose principal occupation is prayer, contemplation, education or the relief of suffering (but not in the case of a converted block of flats, to which Section 257 applies).

The full list of exemptions is detailed in Schedule 14 of the Housing Act 2004 (as amended by Section 185 of the Localism Act 2011) and The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006.