Property licensing

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

The legal definition of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is extensive, but a brief definition is:

  • a dwelling that's occupied by three or more people in two or more households (families), who share at least one basic amenity (kitchen, bathroom or toilet)

Some buildings converted into self contained flats can also be HMO's if they were converted without complying with the 1991 Building Regulations. This is defined in section 257 of the Housing Act 2004.

You can read the legislation regarding the definition of a house or flat in multiple occupation here.

You can read the legislation for the definition of HMOs which are converted blocks of self contained flats here.

Types of licences

When you apply, you don't need to know which type of licence you're applying for. If you fill out the application form, we'll work out which licence you need.

We offer two types of HMO licences:

  • mandatory
  • additional

Mandatory licensing

These licences are for houses in multiple occupation that meet all of the criteria below:

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

Please note: On 1 October 2018, the mandatory HMO licensing scheme is being extended to most Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) that are occupied by five or more people and where there's some sharing of facilities, regardless of the number of storeys. After this date you can still apply for a licence using our licensing portal and we'll issue you with the appropriate licence.

Additional licensing

These licences are for all houses in multiple occupation that don't fall into the definition provided above.

Planning permission for HMOs

Having a valid property license is not the same as having planning permission.

If you wish to let your property as an HMO, it must have the correct class of planning use. You may need to apply for planning permission to change it.

Page last updated: 05 March 2019