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Overview

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 ‘household’ (for example a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’.

If you want to rent out your property as a house in multiple occupation in England or Wales you must contact your council to check if you need a licence.

You must have a licence if you’re renting out a large HMO in England or Wales. Your property is defined as a large HMO if all of the following apply:

  • it is rented to 5 or more people who form more than 1 household
  • some or all tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities
  • at least 1 tenant pays rent (or their employer pays it for them)

Even if your property is smaller and rented to fewer people, you may still need a licence depending on the area. Check with your council.

Restrictions

A licence is valid for a maximum of 5 years.

You must renew your licence before it runs out.

You need a separate licence for each HMO you run.

Conditions

You must make sure:

  • the house is suitable for the number of occupants (this depends on its size and facilities)
  • the manager of the house - you or an agent - is considered to be ‘fit and proper’, for example they have no criminal record or breach of landlord laws or code of practice

You must also:

  • send the council an updated gas safety certificate every year
  • install and maintain smoke alarms
  • provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances when requested

The council may add other conditions to your licence, for example improving the standard of your facilities. They will let you know when you apply.

If you disagree with any conditions the council sets, you can appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal.

You should apply for the licence yourself, but if you use a managing agent they can apply for you.

You’ll be charged a fee which is set by the council.

Fines and penalties

You could get an unlimited fine for renting out an unlicensed HMO.