HMO Licencing Information

What is a household?

A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:

* married or living together - including people in same-sex relationships
* relatives or half-relatives, e.g. grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
* step-parents and step-children

I live in purpose built flats. Does this mean the building will need a licence?

Purpose built flats where there are up to two flats in the block and one or both of the flats are occupied by 5 or more persons in 2 or more separate households. This will apply regardless of whether the block is above or below commercial premises. This will bring certain flats above shops on high streets within mandatory licensing as well as small blocks of flats which are not connected to commercial premises.

As is the case now, it is the individual HMO that is required to be licensed and not the building within which the HMO is situated. This means that where a building has two flats and each is occupied by 5 persons living in 2 or more households, each flat will require a separate HMO licence.

I’m a landlord. What happens if I don’t get a licence?

There are serious consequences for landlords and letting agents who do not obtain licences for licensable properties. The local authority can bring a prosecution against the landlord in the magistrates’ court and fines for Housing Act 2004 offences have been unlimited since March 2015. Tenants and local authorities have additional remedies in the form of RROs where rent or housing benefit can be claimed back from the landlord by order of the First-Tier Tribunal.

I’m a tenant and I live in this type of property. What happens if my landlord doesn’t apply for a licence?

With this type of property the landlord has to comply with certain regulations and requirements to make sure that it is safe, in particular with regards to fire. In the first instance, speak to your landlord and ask. If you find your landlord is un co-operative you can also inform us here by emailing in so we have a note of your address. We will then contact your landlord to investigate.

What are adopted standards of fitness?

The Council has adopted standards of fitness and management for HMOs, which are designed to help reduce the risk of fire and to make sure that people living in shared houses or flats have decent facilities. A copy of the standards can be found in related publications beflow. Extra responsibilities for HMO landlords include taking into account:

  • general management of the property
  • standards relating to escape routes in case there is a fire
  • appropriate fire safety measures are in place – for licensed HMOs additional and appropriate fire detection and alarm systems must be installed
  • annual gas safety checks are carried out
  • electrics are checked every 5 years
  • the property is not overcrowded
  • there are adequate and suitably sited toilet and bathing facilities
  • there are adequate food storage, preparation and cooking facilities
  • communal areas and shared facilities are clean and in good repair

Lacors Guidance on Fire Safety - A must for landlords

Officers also work very closely with the Fire Authority and work using ‘The Lacors Guidance on Housing-Fire Safety’ https://www.cieh.org/media/1244/guidance-on-fire-safety-provisions-for-certain-types-of-existing-housing.pdf which was written by the Chief Fire Officers Association and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (C.I.E.H). If you are a landlord you can obtain good advice from this on the type of fire alarm systems etc. you may need.

What are the Management Regulations?

These can be found in detail in the related publications below but here are a few main points.

  • Every HMO must have a manager. A notice giving the name and address of the manager should be on display in the premises.
  • The Housing (Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation) Regulations 1990 cover aspects relating to good management of the premises.
  • The Manager is required by the Regulations to ensure the repair, maintenance, cleansing or good order of:
  1. all means of water supply and drainage in the house (regulation 4);
  2. parts of the house and installations in common use (regulations 6 and 7);
  3. living accommodation (regulation 8);
  4. windows and other means of ventilation (regulation 9);
  5. means of escape from fire and apparatus systems, and other things provided by way of fire precautions (regulation 10);
  6. outbuildings, yard etc. in common use (regulation 11).

The manager is also required to:

  1. make satisfactory arrangements for the disposal of refuse and litter from the house (regulation 12);
  2. ensure the taking of reasonable precautions for the general safety of residents (regulation 13);
  3. display in the house a notice of the name, address and telephone number, if any, of the manager (regulation 14);
  4. provide specified information to the local housing authority about the occupancy of the house where the authority gives him written notice to that effect (regulation 15).

All gas installations and appliances MUST be safety checked and maintained annually by a suitably qualified Gas Safe registered installer, and the installation must meet the requirements of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

The Gas Safe Register (https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/) provides details of qualified and registered gas engineers. This information can also be gained by calling 0800 4085500 and you can keep up to date with Gas Safe information by following them on Facebook and Twitter

The UK Health and Safety Executive also provide information on Domestic Gas Safety (http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/) :

Electrics need to comply with current Building Regulations and be installed/works undertaken by a member of a competent persons scheme.

Different categories of HMO have different levels of risk and the standards reflect these. For example, hostels may need more smoke detectors than houses with lodgers.

The Council has also produced a Home Safety Inspection Checklist to help with the above standards, a downloadable version can be found in the list of documents at the bottom of this page.

If you require further information, please contact the Environmental Services Team (Domestic) who will be happy to advise you.

Related Publications