When is a HMO licence required?
MARK QUINN >
Consultant PartnerThu 15 April 2021
Solicitors for advice on HMO applications, appeals and enforcement
Houses in multiple occupation (HMO) can require a licence from your local council. If your HMO property needs a licence, it can depend on two factors:
- Is the property defined as a HMO under the legislation?
- Does my council require me to hold a HMO licence?
We advise and represent landlords and letting agents on completing HMO licensing applications (problems can include refusals and where licences are revoked), dealing with enforcement action where a licence was needed but wasn't obtained, rent repayment orders, and appeals.
HMO licence requirements vary depending on locations. We advise checking with your local council to see if your property requires one.
What is a HMO licence?
1. HMO licence for 3 tenants
If your property has 3 or more tenants and they share common amenities such as: a toilet, bathroom or kitchen., The landlord will be required to obtain a HMO licence from the council.
The 3+ tenants must form more than one household. For example,3 unrelated tenants or 2 couples each sharing a room.
As before, some councils require other HMOs to be licenced, so it is still worth checking if you have less than 3 tenants.
2. Mandatory HMO licence
If your property has 5 or more tenants who share the common amenities listed above it will be defined as a large HMO and this will always require a licence.
The 5+ tenants must form more than 1 household. For instance, families living together.
3. HMO licence for Airbnb
A common question is whether an Airbnb will require a HMO licence. If the sole purpose of the BNB is for short term holidays it will not require a licence.
However, if the property is used long term and there are more than 3 tenants sharing amenities it may require a HMO licence. You should seek advice from your local council on whether a licence will be required.
What are the requirements for a HMO?
Your local council is best placed to advise on the specific HMO licence requirements for your property.
- landlord is a 'fit and proper' person (e.g. no criminal record)
- fire safety measures in place
- annual gas safety checks
- electrical checks every 5 years
- no overcrowding
- adequate amenities for the number of tenants
- shared facilities are clean and in good repair
- adequate waste disposal
A good resource on HMOs and the requirements, in general, can be found on Shelter.
What happens if I don’t have an HMO licence?
If a HMO is unlicenced the landlord can be criminally prosecuted and face an unlimited fine.
Alternatively, they can face a Financial Penalty Notice of up to £30,000.
A tenant may also be able to seek a Rent Repayment Order covering the previous 12 month’s rent.
How long does the HMO licence last?
Most will last for 5 years but, again, this can be shorter depending on your council. You must apply to renew your licence before it expires.
Please contact Mark Quinn at our Peterborough Office on 01733 865136 or click the ‘contact us’ button to email him directly. Looking for more information on HMO Licence, please click here or contact Mark for further advice.