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Overview

Contact your council for a licence to rent out your property as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) in England or Wales.

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

You must have a licence for your HMO if it’s:

  • rented to 5 or more people who form more than 1 household
  • at least 3 storeys high

Even if your property is smaller and rented to less 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 (eg size and facilities)
  • the manager of the house - you or an agent - is considered to be ‘fit and proper’, eg 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, eg improving the standard of your facilities. They will let you know when you apply.

If you disagree with any conditions the council set, you can appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal.

How to apply

Contact the council to request an HMO licence.

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

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

Fines and penalties

You can be fined up to £20,000 for renting out an unlicensed HMO.

More information

Read the guide for landlords and managers who manage HMOs for more information.

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