Private rented property licensing

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Is my property an HMO?

The legal definition of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is extensive, but a brief definition is a dwelling that is occupied by three or more people in two or more households (families).

Read the legislation regarding the definition of a house or flat in multiple occupation.

Some buildings converted into self-contained flats can also be HMOs if they were converted without complying with the 1991, or later, Building Regulations. This is defined in section 257 of the Housing Act 2004 and is referred to as section 257 HMOs.

Read the legislation for the definition of HMOs which are converted blocks of self contained flats.

Do I need to apply for a licence for my HMO?

You need a licence if your property falls under the mandatory scheme which includes HMOs that:

  • are occupied by five or more people in two or more households
  • with shared amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities

You will need to apply for a licence under the new additional licensing schemes from 1 March 2022 if your property is either:

  • an HMO let to four or less people with shared amenities; or
  • a section 257 HMO where the building is three or more storeys and converted into three or more self-contained flats where both the building and flats are under the same ownership or control
  • flats in multiple occupations in a purpose-built block of flats that houses three or more flats

Planning permission for HMOs

Having a valid property licence is not the same as having planning permission. If you wish to let your property as an HMO to seven or more occupiers you will need planning permission.

Find out if you need planning permission.

If your property is in one of the areas in Southwark subject to an Article 4 Direction you must apply for planning permission for use as an HMO regardless of the number of occupiers.

Find out more information on our Article 4 Directions page.

Page last updated: 15 July 2024


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