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Property licensing

Houses and Flats in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

At its simplest a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a dwelling that is occupied by three or more people in two or more households (households essentially means a family group) who share at least one basic amenity (kitchen, bathroom, toilet).

Some buildings that are converted into self contained flats can also be HMOs if they were converted without meeting, at least, 1990 Building Regulations. This is defined in section 257 of the Housing Act 2004.

Additional Licensing Scheme

From 1 November 2015 all HMOs, that aren’t already licensable under the mandatory scheme (see below), will require a licence. You cannot apply for a licence if your property falls within this scheme until that date. An online application will be available from 1 November 2015.

Mandatory Licensing Scheme

HMOs that:

  • are 3 or more storeys high
  • have five or more people in more than one household, and
  • share amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities

require a licence under the mandatory scheme.

The mandatory scheme is active now and if you are currently renting out a property that falls within this scheme, and you do not already have a licence, you will need to apply for a licence by clicking on the How do I license an HMO? option below.

If your HMO is licensable under this scheme and you have not applied for a licence, you could, if convicted, face an unlimited fine and a criminal conviction. Action could also be taken to recover rent paid while the property was unlicensed.

Single Family Properties

Selective Licensing Scheme

From 1 November 2015 all single family, privately rented properties, in the selective licensing area (see below), will require a licence. You cannot apply for a licence if your property falls within this scheme until that date. An online application will be available from 1 November 2015.

Click here to view the public notices declaring the designation of Selective and Additional Licensing in the borough. 

Click here to view interactive maps where you can check if your property falls within a Selective Licensing area.

Click here to view more information on the outline licensing process for all licensable properties from 1 November 2015 

Click here to view the original Cabinet report and appendices for Selective and Additional Licensing  

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Private Sector Housing Enforcement Team

Tel: 0207 525 3114

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Southwark Council
PO BOX 64529
London SE1P 5LX

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