Houses in Multiple Occupation - HMO

Houses in multiple occupation (HMO) licensing

Change in definition

The Mandatory Licensable HMO definition has been varied to 5 or more (unrelated) persons making up 2 or more households. This new definition removes the 3 or more storeys element which was previously in place. A landlord of such a property should make an application to us before 1 October 2018. Failure to apply for a licence when required is an offence punishable on summary conviction to an unlimited fine.

Exemptions apply to larger blocks of flats with 3 or more purpose built flats above or below commercial premises.

Tenants of licensable HMOs, whose landlords have failed to licence their HMO, can apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for a Rent Repayment Order to claim back any rent they have paid during the unlicensed period, up to a maximum of 12 months. We can also reclaim any Housing Benefit or Universal Credit during the unlicensed period.


Apply for a HMO licence >>

We inspect the HMO to ensure that it is of an acceptable standard regarding:

  • fire precautions
  • space
  • amenities
  • state of repair
  • gas and electrical safety
  • management

It is then risk rated.

Additionally, checks are made to ensure that the proposed licensee is a fit with the proper person.

We then grant a licence for a set number of persons and / or households to occupy the premises. There may be other conditions attached.

The licence granted lasts for 5 years.

The application fee (PDF) can be paid by a debit or credit card, on receipt of an invoice, by calling us on 0300 300 8030.

Download the public register of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) (link opens in new window).

Do I need to license my property?

You may need to license your property if:

  • it is rented to five or more people from two or more households
  • a basement is used as part of the accommodation or loft conversion counts as a floor

How much will it cost?

The Licence fee is £304.70 per property plus £33.10 per flat or per lettable room for a 5-year licence.

In addition to this licence additional licence fee, there is an additional fee to cover the costs of running and enforcing the scheme which is £132.10 per property plus £58.80 per flat or lettable room.

How do I apply for a licence?

You need to complete all the parts of this application form. If you need to send anything by post then this should be marked for the attention of the Housing Solutions Service at one of the following addresses:

  • properties in the north of the district former Mid Bedfordshire area - Priory House, Monks Walk, Chicksands, Shefford, SG17 5TQ
  • properties in the south of the district former South Bedfordshire - Watling House, High Street North, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, LU6 1LF

Can I get help if I English is not my first language?

Yes, we can help. Call us 0300 300 8767.

Why is there a statement about fit and proper people?

The government recognises that many of the people living in rented accommodation are vulnerable.

We must ensure that their living accommodation is not owned or managed by an individual known to have committed or been convicted for any relevant offences. Please be aware DBS Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS), Police National Computer (PNC) and the Rogue Landlord Database checks may be undertaken.

Why is there a statement about the furniture and furnishings?

The law requires that furniture and furnishings in a rented, furnished property are fire resistant to reduce the risk of fire spreading through the property.

The statement needs to be signed to confirm that the furniture and furnishings conform to the relevant British Standard.

Why is there a Fire Risk Assessment?

A Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) is required under the Fire Regulatory Reform Order 2005 for any HMO.

It should be completed for each property. There is a 3-page Fire Risk Assessment form that is included to assist you.

But a landlord or owner could be economical with the truth

It is an offence to provide false or misleading information when applying for a licence, which can lead to revocation of licence and prosecution of the applicant, punishable on summary of conviction with an unlimited fine.


Person having control

Person having control in relation to premises, means (unless the context otherwise requires) the person who receives the rack rent of the premises (whether on his own account or as agent or trustee of another person), or who would so receive it if the premises were let at a rack - rent.

Person managing

“Person managing” means the person who, being an owner or lessee of the premises, receives rent or other payments (whether directly or through an agent or trustee) from persons in occupation as tenants or licensees of part of the premises of a house in multiple occupation (HMO). This also includes owners or lessees who would have received rent or other payments but for an arrangement for another person to receive the rent or payment (for example in pursuance of a court order). 


Owner means:

  • a person (other than a mortgage not in possession) who is for the time being entitled to dispose of the fee simple of the premises whether in possession or in reversion, and
  • includes the person holding or entitled to the rents and profits of the premises under a lease having an unexpired term exceeding three years

What is a fit and proper person?

The evidence that must be considered in determining whether someone is a fit and proper person to be a licence holder or a manager includes whether that person (or a relevant associate e.g. a spouse or business partner) has:

  • been engaged in offences of fraud, dishonesty, violence, drugs or sexual offences (attracting notification under the Sexual Offences Act 2003)
  • practiced unlawful discrimination on grounds of sex, colour, race, ethnic or national origins, disability in connection with the carrying on of any business
  • contravened any provision of the law relating to housing or of landlords and tenant law. Spent convictions are not, in this context, taken into account
  • Received a Banning Order (Housing and Planning Act 2016

What is a competent person?

A person with sufficient practical and theoretical knowledge, adequately qualified and experienced to carry out the task. This person should be aware of their own limitations with regards to the task.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

An owner found to have a licensable property and who has not submitted a valid application; or an owner who has breached the conditions of the licence will be prosecuted.

Penalties include an unlimited fine, in addition to lost rental income and the loss of any Housing Benefit already paid within the last 12 months from the date of conviction.

We have powers to revoke a licence and to take over the management of the property.