Houses in multiple occupation

Houses in multiple occupations (known as HMOs) are classed as such if:

  • There are three or more tenants
  • There are two or more households, in other words, the occupants are not all related to each other
  • The tenants share some basic amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet
  • The property is the only or main residence for all the occupants
  • The property is not used for any other purpose

There are other types of HMO and some exemptions to the definition given above. The legal definition of what makes a property an HMO can be found in sections 254 and 257 of the Housing Act 2004.

Some regulations apply to all HMOs to ensure that occupiers do not live in unsafe or overcrowded accommodation. We will investigate concerns of poor housing conditions in HMOs and can take legal action against landlords if the problems are serious enough.

Landlords can request an application form from us to apply for an HMO licence. Information about applying is available on this page.

Which HMOs require a licence?

A landlord / manager of a HMO will be required to hold a licence if the property has:

  • five or more occupants;
  • forming more than two households

It is a criminal offence to operate a licensable HMO without a licence. Landlords can be prosecuted in Magistrates' Court and given an unlimited fine.  In addition the Council and tenants can apply for a rent repayment order and claim back up to 12 months rent / housing benefit payments.  Alternatively, we may choose to issue a civil penalty which could be up to £30,000.

How much does a HMO licence cost and how long does it last?

HMO licences usually last for 5 years but this can occasionally be for a shorter period depending on the circumstances.  

The fee reflects the amount of work that we are required to carry out on a standard application and the monitoring during the licence period.  There are reduced fees for applications to renew existing licences and for multiple applications received at the same time. The fee is split into two parts; the application fee covers the cost of processing the licence and is non-refundable if the application is not successful or is withdrawn.

There is a separate charge to cover the costs of the licensing scheme during the period of the licence, which is payable once a licence has been issued.  You may pay the whole charge together if you prefer. There are reduced fees where more than one application is made at the same time. 


The following fees are for the financial year of 2023-2024

New licences


Application fee

Monitoring fee


First application




Second application and each subsequent application







Application fee

Monitoring fee


First application




Second and each subsequent application





All HMO licences are listed on our Public Register of HMO licences and the register is available to download from the downloads panel.  If the property you suspect is not on that register, you can contact us with the address and any other relevant information so that we can investigate further. 

Fire Safety Guidance

The Government has issued guidance on fire safety to assist in understanding what has to be done for HMOs to comply with the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The intention of this guidance is to ensure that there is a consistent risk assessment approach in private rented properties by both Fire Services and Local Authorities.  Compliance with the guidance should in most cases also satisfy the HMO licensing requirement. 

It is a requirement that all HMOs (not just licensed HMOs) have a fire risk assessment conducted and the appropriate fire safety measures put in place. Further information on fire safety and how to do a fire risk assessment can be found on the Decent and Safe Homes in the East Midlands (DASH) website.

What standards do licensed HMOs have to meet?

Before issuing a HMO licence we have to be satisfied that the property is suitable for the number of occupants applied for and that it is safe. The minimum space and amenity standards that all licensed HMO must meet are on the DASH website at the link below.

These standards vary depending on the type of HMO such as bedsits, shared houses (such as student houses), hostels etc. and cover:

  • Minimum bedroom sizes
  • The number of bathrooms and toilets required
  • The minimum size of the kitchen / shared living space and the number of cooking facilities
What conditions are attached to a HMO licence?

All HMO licences must have mandatory conditions attached to them. These conditions cover issues including:

  • The maximum number of occupants and households
  • Gas safety
  • Electrical Safety
  • Fire safety
  • Kitchen and bathroom amenities
  • Management standards including the requirement for the licence holder to be a fit and proper person
  • Landlord and tenant agreements

In addition we can add discretionary conditions where it is deemed appropriate to do so.

What happens if the standards in the HMO are not safe or do not meet the conditions of their licence?

It is a criminal offence to break any of the licence conditions or to not maintain a HMO in a safe and reasonable condition. The landlord / licence holder can be prosecuted for this offence and fined an unlimited amount.

All licensed HMOs will be inspected as part of the application process and a further inspection will be conducted approximately half way through the 5-year term of the licence.  We can carry out additional inspections if they deem it necessary (for example if complaints from the tenants are received).

If serious health and safety issues are identified we can take legal action to protect the occupants. This can include serving legal notices requiring the landlord to make repairs, or in the most serious cases it can conduct emergency repairs or close all or parts of the property.

Last updated 18 April 2024
Do you need to get in touch with us? Use our contact form.