Houses in multiple occupation

From 1st October 2018, new regulations introduced mandatory licensing to all multi-occupied properties where there are five or more people, forming two or more separate households.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licences currently apply to most HMOs that are occupied by 5 or more people on 3 or more storeys. From 1 October 2018 most properties which are occupied by 5 or more people forming 2 or more households will become licensable, regardless of the number of floors in the property. This includes any HMO which is a building or converted flat. It also applies to purpose built flats where there are up to two flats in the block and one or both are occupied as a HMO

Do you need an HMO licence?

The main changes to mandatory licensing are:

  • Changed definition of an HMO under the Housing Act 2004: for licensing purposes, an HMO will be a property occupied by five or more people, forming two or more separate households. Previous definition included three or more storeys in the property.
  • Existing HMO licenses under the previous definition will continue to be valid until the license expiration date (usually 5 years from date of issue). After the expiration you will need to apply for a new license as usual.
  • Exemptions will apply where the property is a purpose built flat situated in a block comprising three or more self-contained flats.
  • The introduction of minimum room standards for those properties falling within the scope of mandatory licensing:
  • Single adult: not less than 6.51sqm
  • Two adults: 10.22sqm

Houses fully converted into self-contained flats will generally not be HMOs provided that they were/are converted in accordance with the appropriate Building Regulation standards. A licensable HMO is one that (other than those that are exempt from licensing/ definition and converted blocks) is occupied by five or more people, who comprise two or more households. A licence is valid for 5 years from the date of issue.

The District Council is responsible for enforcing housing standards in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) Under the Housing Act 2004.

In order for a property to be licensed, the property and the landlord must meet certain criteria. Checks are undertaken on the suitability of the landlord/managing agent, and the property will be inspected by an Environmental Health Officer who may be accompanied by a Fire Officer. This inspection covers the general condition of the property under the Housing, Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS), fire safety (e.g. smoke detection, escape routes) and the provision of amenities (e.g. kitchens, bathrooms). Further information on licensing and HMOs is available from Communities and Local Government.

  • If you currently let an HMO which didn’t previously require licensing but will do after 1st October 2018 then you will need to apply for a licence.

To apply for a licence or for more information please contact Environmental Health on 01629 761212 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Further information about the new regulations can be found here: Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

Register of licensed houses in multiple occupation


For further information on the definition of a HMO, for clarification if your property should be licensed and for an application pack please contact the Environmental Health section. The current charge for a license application is £552.90 (2023/24).


If you are a tenant and you wish to know if a property is licensed, or if you have concerns about the condition of your accommodation, please contact the District Council using the details below. The District Council has enforcement powers to require a landlord to carry out necessary repairs or remedial action in all private rented accommodation.

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