Landlords require a HMO (a House in Multiple Occupation licence) if they wish to rent out a property to tenants who form more than one household and share bathroom and kitchen facilities. If you let or are planning to let to tenants in a shared house, a bedsit, or take on a lodger in your home, you may need a HMO.

A HMO needs a licence if the property is three or more stories tall, or is occupied by five people or more who make up more than one household. A household is made up of relatives or a family living together, or a single person living alone.

You must ensure that your HMO is well maintained and meets all health and safety requirements. This will include ensuring that all gas and electrical appliances are safe and checked regularly, and by supplying well-maintained smoke alarms.

How to apply for a HMO licence

You will need to get in touch with your local council to find out if you need a HMO licence, and to get a HMO Licence application form. There will usually be a fee involved when applying, which is non-refundable. This fee varies so check with the council for pricing. If you use a property management agent you can ask them to apply for you. The licence will last for five years, and needs to be renewed before it runs out.

You will need to declare the people who are interested in the HMO, including the owner of the property, the mortgagee, any long leasehold tenants and the future licence holder.

The council will then assess your property’s suitability for the HMO by looking at the deciding factors; the kitchen and bathroom facilities, the number of tenants and the capability and arrangements of the landlord and management.

If your application is rejected the council will try to resolve the problems with you. If the problems cannot be resolved you can appeal to a Residential Property Tribunal. When a council rejects a HMO they will be able to claim management over the property for a maximum of 12 Months, using an interim management order. Again, you can appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal in order to get your property back.