Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing

If you rent out a property that is a house in multiple occupation (HMO), you may require a licence from your local authority. In addition, you will also need to apply for planning permission to change the usage of the property to a HMO.

On-line application for an HMO Licence
On-line application to vary a licence

Please note if you use the online forms you will be required to provide additional information.


Who needs a HMO licence

Applying for a HMO licence

Renewing a HMO licence

Changes to your existing HMO licence

Refused HMO applications

HMO Licensed Public Register (XLS, 1.1MB)

HMO Fire Safety Standards & Management Regulations

Planning Requirements for HMOs

Who needs a HMO licence

On 1 October 2018 the Mandatory licensing rules change across England. The scheme is being extended to include all HMOs regardless of the number of storeys. Therefore from this date all HMOs that are occupied by five or more people who are not all related, and where there is some sharing of facilities, will require a HMO licence.

The scheme was previously restricted to properties that were three or more storeys in height

Who must hold the licence

Either the landlord (owner) or someone they nominate (such as a manager or agent) can hold the licence, provided that person is in agreement.  To grant a licence, we must be satisfied that:

  • The proposed licence holder and any manager of the property are ‘fit and proper’ persons
  • The proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the licence
  • Satisfactory management standards are in place.
  • The HMO is reasonably suitable, or can be made suitable, for occupation by the number of tenants allowed under the licence and has at least the minimum prescribed standards of amenities and facilities (including the number, type and quality of shared bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities). 

The licensing application form contains questions which will enable us to decide whether or not the landlord and the property meet the criteria to be given a licence.

Fit and proper person

The licence holder and any manager must be ‘fit and proper’ persons to hold the licence or manage the HMO.  In determining whether the licence holder or manager is ‘fit and proper, we will consider:

  • Any previous convictions relating to violence, sexual offences, drugs and fraud
  • Whether the proposed licence holder has broken any laws relating to housing or landlord and tenant issues
  • Whether the person has been found guilty of unlawful discrimination
  • Whether the person has previously managed HMOs that have breached any approved code of practice.

The licensing application form has a ‘fit and proper’ person declaration that the proposed licence holder and any manager must complete and sign.


Applying for a HMO licence

A licence application form can be downloaded or you may request a printed application form by email.  If you wish to renew an existing licence, complete the HMO licence renewal form.  Applications to renew should be submitted two months before the existing licence expires.  Consult the application guidance notes and frequently asked questions for help in completing your application or call us for assistance.

HMO Licensing Application Form (DOC, 521KB)

HMO Licensing Application Guidance Notes (DOC, 3.3MB)
HMO Licensing Frequently Ask Questions (DOC, 146KB)


What is the licence fee

The licence fee is £344 for all new and renewal applications.  Do not enclose any payment; you will be invoiced after you have submitted your application.

You do not have to pay a fee for applying to vary your licence but you do still need to submit an application form stating the variations.

What you are required to submit with the application

With your application you must also provide:

  • A floor plan of the property indicating room sizes, location of the bathroom, toilet and kitchen facilities plus the position of smoke alarms, emergency lighting units and fire doors  
  • A current gas safety certificate, renewed annually (if the property has a gas supply).  Any application received without this certificate will be invalid.  Failure to provide an appropriate gas safety certificate within 14 days of request may result either in legal proceedings or a refused application.  The case may be referred to the Health and Safety Executive.
  • A valid electrical installation condition report.  If you do not have one, you will be asked to supply one within a specified period of time as a condition of the licence.
  • A portable appliance test certificate for any electrical equipment you supply as part of the tenancy. If you do not have a certificate, you will be asked to supply one within a specified period of time as a condition of the licence.
  • A declaration that all upholstered furniture supplied complies with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988.  To comply with the regulations, your furniture must:
    • Carry a permanent and non-detachable manufacturer’s label
    • Have fire resistant filling material
    • Pass the ‘match resistance test’ as prescribed
    • Pass the ‘cigarette test’ as prescribed.
    • Details of what fire precautions currently exist in the property, including the location of any fire doors and smoke alarms.  If your property does not comply with required standards you will be required to install additional fire safety measures within a specified period of time as a condition of the licence.
    • A written statement for each occupier of the terms on which they occupy the property, such as a tenancy agreement.

    How long does it take to process an application

    We aim to process valid applications as quickly as possible. The length of the application process will depend on circumstances, including whether we need to inspect the property to confirm it is suitable for licensing.

    Tacit approval is not automatically given to any application for a HMO Licence.  In the interest of public safety, each licence application must be given full consideration by the council before it can be approved. 

    We will propose to grant the licence.  All interested parties declared on the licence form will be notified and will receive a copy of the draft licence and attached conditions.  All parties are given a 21 days in which to make any representations to the council regarding the licence and its conditions.  After this period, and providing that no material modifications are made to the licence and its conditions as a result of any representations, the council will make the decision to grant the licence.
    The licence does not then come into force for a further 28 days in which time any interested parties may appeal to the residential property tribunal

    Licence terms and conditions

    The HMO licence will specify the maximum number of people permitted to occupy the HMO and if necessary the number of people permitted to occupy each room within the HMO.

    The HMO licence will be valid for up to five years.

    There are mandatory licensing conditions that must be complied with.  These include:

    • Provision of an annual gas safety certificate;
    • Ensuring all electrical appliances and furniture are kept in a safe condition;
    • Ensuring smoke alarms are installed and kept in proper working order;
    • Ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is installed in any room containing a solid fuel burning combustion appliance and keep the alarm in proper working order;
    • Provision of a tenancy agreement to each occupier.

    Discretionary conditions may also be applied, these could include: 

    • Restrictions or prohibitions on the use or occupation of parts of the HMO;
    • Requirement to deal with any anti-social behaviour by person(s) occupying or visiting the HMO;
    • Requirement to comply with the HMO management regulations;
    • Provision of additional facilities;
    • Requirements to ensure the fixed electrical installations, electrical appliances and fire detection systems are in working order and the relevant certificates are provided.

    Renewing a HMO licence

    Applications to renew an existing HMO licence should be submitted two months before the existing licence expires.  We need to know about any changes that may have occurred.  You will need to provide updated information about your status as a ‘fit and proper’ person to act as the licence holder.

    The new licence will last for a further five years. 

    What is required with a renewal application

    • Application fee of £344; do not enclose any payment; you will be invoiced after you have submitted your application.
    • Property floor plan:  You will only need to provide this if the property plan from your original licence application is no longer accurate.  We will contact you if there are any problems.
    • Safety certificates:  You must provide renewed safety certificates for any certificates that are out of date (including:  gas, electrical, fire alarm, emergency lighting, and portable electrical appliances).  You must also provide an updated declaration that all upholstered furniture you provide as part of the tenancy is fully compliant with fire safety regulations. 
    • Fit and proper person declaration: this must be completed and signed by the proposed licence holder and any manager.


    HMO Licensing Renewal Application Form (DOC, 311KB)

    HMO Licensing Renewal Guidance Notes (DOC, 3.3MB)

    What are the penalties for renting a licensable HMO, without obtaining a licence

    Section 72 of The Housing Act 2004 makes it a criminal offence if a person managing or controlling a HMO does not have the required licence.  A person found guilty of such an offence will be subject to a fine of up to £20,000.  You cannot rely on any delay in obtaining planning permission as a defence for not licensing your HMO

    It is an offence not to meet all the conditions of the licence.  There could be an unlimited fine for each breach and the licence may be revoked.

    If, for example, a requested safety certificate is not submitted or more persons occupy the HMO than are permitted on the licence, evidence may be gathered to begin legal proceedings. Therefore it is imperative that the terms and conditions of the licence are complied with.

    Failure to licence an HMO or to permit a breach of the licence conditions will incur the following penalties:

    • A financial penalty up to £30,000.00
    • Prosecution resulting in a criminal record and a fine
    • A Rent Repayment Order to recover up to 12 months’ worth of rent paid by housing benefits to the landlord/agent directly or by the tenant.
    • Interim Management Orders (IMO)
    • The landlord cannot issue a section 21 "Notice Requiring Possession" during the period the property is unlicensed


    Changes to your existing licence


    Changes to the property

    If the number of bedrooms in a house in multiple occupation has been increased, the landlord/agent will need to apply to vary the terms and conditions of the licence.  Alterations made may require additional facilities.  Application to vary the licence will not incur charges but it is necessary to state variations made on an application form.

    Changes in managing agent or licence holder

    Licences are not transferable. To change a licence holder, the licence will need to be revoked and the proposed new licence holder should apply for a licence in their own right.

    If the managing agent is the HMO licence holder, the licence will need to be revoked and the new managing agent will have to apply for a licence in their own right.

    Should the managing agent change, but is not the licence holder, the licence and public register will need to be updated to show the new manager.

    Selling the property

    Licences are not transferable.  Should the licence holder sell the HMO, the licence will be revoked.  A new owner would need to apply for a licence in their own right if it is to continue to be rented as a licensable HMO.


    Converting the HMO back to a single family dwelling

    A request can be made to the council to revoke the licence, or the licence can be allowed to run until it expires.  The council should then be notified that it will not be renewed.


    Refused HMO applications

    Should the council decide that the landlord is not a ‘fit and proper person’, or the property fails to meet the conditions, and there is no reasonable prospect of appointing an alternative licence holder, or bringing the property up to standard within an acceptable time period, the council may refuse to issue a licence for a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

    In this situation, it may be necessary for the council to issue an Interim Management Order (IMO).  This allows the council to intervene and manage the property, including collecting the rent.  This order may last for a year or until suitable permanent arrangements can be made.  If the IMO expires and there is no likelihood of a positive change in the circumstances, then the council can issue a Final Management Order (FMO).  This removes the property from the control of the owner for a period of five years, or for a time which can be reviewed.

    Appealing a refused application

    The landlord may appeal if the council:

    • Decides to refuse a licence
    • Grants a licence with additional conditions
    • Revokes a licence
    • Varies a licence, or
    • Refuses to vary a licence.

    You must appeal to the First-tier Tribunal, normally within 28 days

    Licensed HMO Public Register

    All HMOs that are licensed must be added to the HMO Licensed Register (XLS, 624KB).  The type of details included on the register are the start date and length of the licence, name and address of the licence holder, name and address of the any managing agent and information about the HMO such as the maximum number of tenants allowed to occupy the HMO, the number of rooms and other facilities etc.

    HMO Licence application forms to download

    HMO Licensing Application Form (DOC, 521KB)

    HMO Licensing Application Guidance Notes (DOC, 3.3MB)

    HMO Licensing Renewal Application Form (DOC, 311KB)

    HMO Licensing Renewal Application Guidance Notes (DOC, 3.3MB)

    HMO Licensing Frequently Asked Questions (PDF, 191KB)


    Planning Requirements for HMOs

    Milton Keynes has introduced an Article 4 Directions which means that planning permission is required when converting a dwelling house (C3), or non-residential property, to  an HMO use class (C4) or Sui Generis.  When making your planning application ensure you refer to the HMO supplementary planning document for guidance or for further information please contact the Planning Team on 01908 691691 or send an email.

Last Updated: 1 September 2020