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Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need a HMO licence?

Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are an important source of affordable housing for individuals who may be on a low income. However, these properties can be difficult to manage and often present greater risks than those occupied by single households. It is because of these risks to the safety and health of the occupants that HMO licencing was introduced.

A licence will usually be issued for a maximum of 5 years, although it can be for a shorter period.

Yes. The following types of property do not require a HMO Licence:

  • Buildings controlled by public sector bodies
  • Buildings regulated under another Act
  • Buildings occupied by students and the person in control is the educational body
  • Buildings occupied by religious communities
  • Buildings occupied solely by owners
  • Buildings occupied by two persons as two households
  • Buildings occupied by a resident landlord and his family with no more than two other persons living with them as lodgers (part of the family)
  • Certain types of property including: children’s homes, care homes, residential family centres, boarding schools or colleges which accommodate children, approved bail hostels, approved probation hostels, removal centres, prisons, remand centres, young offenders institutions, secure training centres, accommodation centres for destitute asylum seekers.
  • Buildings converted entirely into self-contained flats.

There will be a number of conditions attached to licences, some of which are set out in the Act and some of which will be prescribed by the Authority on a case by case basis. The conditions that will apply to all licences are:

  • The gas safety certificate must be provided annually to the Council (where the property has a gas supply)
  • All electrical appliances and installations provided as part of the tenancy must be in a safe condition;
  • All furniture provided as part of the tenancy must comply with the relevant regulations;
  • An automatic fire detection system is to be installed within the house and maintained in proper working order;
  • A declaration, as and when required by the Authority, as to the condition and positions of such alarms;
  • The tenants must be provided with a Tenancy Agreement

Authorities may also apply the following conditions:

  • Restrictions or prohibitions on the use of parts of the HMO by occupants;
  • A requirement that the condition of the property, its contents, such as furniture and all facilities and amenities, bathroom and toilets for example, are in good working order;
  • A requirement for specified works or repairs to be carried out within a particular timescale;
  • A requirement that the responsible person attends an approved training course.

If a landlord or person having control of a property intends to stop operating it as an HMO and has evidence to substantiate this, i.e. Planning/Building Regulations applications then he or she can apply for a temporary exemption notice. This lasts for a maximum of three months and ensures that a property in the process of being converted from an HMO does not need to be licenced. If the situation is not resolved within 3 months, then in exceptional circumstances, a second TEN can be issued. However, when this runs out the property must be licenced, become subject to an IMO or cease to be an HMO.

A landlord or person having control cannot serve his/her existing tenants with a Section 21 'Notice to Quit' to remove the property from requiring a licence. A complete licence application must be submitted and at the stage where the property is no longer licensable, i.e. there are no more than 4 persons in occupation, the licence holder must apply to have the licence revoked.

It is an offence to operate a licensable HMO without a licence. Upon conviction, a person may be liable to a fine of up to £20,000.

A tenant living in a property that should be licensed, but was not, can apply to the First tier Tribunal (Residential Property) to claim back any rent they have paid during the unlicenced period (up to a limit of 12 months). The Council can also claim back any housing benefit that has been paid during that same period.

In deciding whether someone is 'fit and proper' the council must take into account:

  • Any unspent convictions relating to violence, sexual offences, drugs and fraud;
  • Whether the proposed licence holder has broken any laws relating to housing or landlord and tenant issues;
  • Whether the person has been found guilty of unlawful discrimination;
  • Whether the person has previously managed an HMO that have broken any approved code of practice.

Applicants are required to declare such evidence and the Council reserves the right to undertake further checks.