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Do You Need an HMO Property Licence?

Property Technology Blog

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Many landlords could find their properties are falling into the House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) category without even realising it. The traditional idea of an HMO conjures up the image of a block or property split up into multiple different residences each containing tenants with no connection to each other; a position most small-time landlords don’t expect to find themselves in.

But the reality is that even a small two-bedroom flat being rented to a couple and their friend could constitute an HMO. Which means that the landlord may require an HMO license. Given that the fine for letting an unlicensed HMO is unlimited, it’s worth making landlords aware of the extended criteria around licensing HMO properties.

How do I know if I need an HMO license?

Although all larger HMOs (categorised as a property rented to more than 5 people who form more than one household and share facilities) require a mandatory license,  when it comes to smaller HMOs there are a number or variables and local factors that could influence whether your property needs a licence. The local council can make requirements for smaller HMOs to be licensed – so any landlords who suspect their property might qualify should contact either their local council or a professional HMO consultant.

What constitutes a separate household?

When it comes to HMO licensing, a household is a single person, a co-habiting couple (married or not) or members of the same family who live together. Families are classed as tenants who are married or living together as a family, or all relatives or half-relatives (grandparents, step-siblings etc). So all you need is three tenants without a blood tie to each other and you could be potentially looking at an HMO.

My council says I need a license? What next?

If the local council says you do need an HMO license, be aware that simply getting the license (and renewing it every 5 years) will not be the only requirement. In addition, landlords will be expected to:

  • Make sure the house is suitable for the number of occupants (this will depend on its size and facilities)
  • Ensure the gas safety certificate is updated every year
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms
  • Provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances when requested.

Each individual council may also have its own conditions to add to the license – these will be outlined on application.


You can read more about HMO property licensing in our in-depth HMO article here. And take a look at some of our free ebooks which might be of interest to you. 

How to get a property licence email bannerHow to Get a Property Licence Property & HMO Email bannerProperty & HMO Licensing Quick Guide 19_PD414_Emailbanner_Gas Safety_15-4HHSRS Guide: Gas Safety Certificates Social-croudingHHSRS Guide: Crowding and Space
Joe Parish

Written by Joe Parish

Joe loves to read on property management. He has also recently adopted a Peaky-Blinder-esque fashion sense and a positive attitude to adjectival hyphenated phrases.

law | HMO | house of multiple occupancy

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