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. You will also need to apply for planning permission to change the usage of the property to a HMO.

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

Last Updated: 4 May 2022