What is a HMO?

A property is an HMO if it is an entire house or flat which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet. The property must also be used as the tenants' only or main residence and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants. 

A household is defined as:

  • couples married to each other or living together as husband and wife (or equivalent relationship in the case of people of the same sex)
  • relatives living together. A foster child living with his foster parent is treated as living in the same household as his foster parent)
  • any domestic staff are also included in the household if they are living rent-free in the accommodation provided by the person they are working for.

The full definition of an HMO and a household can be found in the Housing Act 2004.

All HMO's must comply with the Government safety regulations and standards.

All HMO's must comply with Government safety regulations and standards.

HMO Amenity Standards

All HMOs require sufficient bathroom and kitchen facilities; and bedroom sizes should be of a sufficient size for the number of occupiers; for further guidance, refer to our Amenity Standards.

HMO Fire Safety Standards

HMOs require fire precautions which may include mains wired interlinked fire alarm system, emergency lighting and a fully protected means of escape. Any fire safety measures and protected escape routes provided must be maintained, regularly inspected, any defects documented and all faults rectified. Additional information can be found on the Private Landlord Fire Safety pages

If you would like an inspection of your property or are thinking of letting a property as an HMO and would like further information or advice relating to fire safety the Private Sector Housing team can carry out an inspection and advise on any works required.  These works are based on a Housing Health & Safety Rating System inspection, the LACORS - Guidance on Fire Safety Provisions for certain types of existing housing and following a consultation with Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service.

Planning and Building 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.  

Some conversion works may require building regulation approval; for further advice please contact the Building Control Team 

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing

Who needs a HMO licence?

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.

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. 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 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). 

Applying for or renewing an HMO licence - Form and fees

The MKCC application form is available for download, please complete and return to either the email or postal address on the application form.

Please refer to the HMO Licensing Application Guidance Notes for assistance with completing your application.

Applications to renew an existing HMO licence should be submitted two months before the existing licence expires. 

  • The new licence will last for a further five years. 

The licence fee for new applications and renewals is £457 - you will be invoiced after you have submitted your application.

New Licences - What you are required to submit with an application

  • A detailed floor plan of the property showing room sizes, bathroom, toilet and kitchen facilities, smoke alarms, emergency lighting units and fire doors. This doesn’t need to be to scale and can be hand drawn but a photo of the drawing will need to be uploaded to your application
  • A current gas safety certificate (if the property has a gas supply). .
  • A valid electrical installation condition report and portable appliance test (PAT) certificate for any electrical equipment you supply as part of the tenancy 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 declaration that all upholstered furniture supplied complies with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988
  • Details of what fire precautions currently exist in the property, including the location of fire doors and smoke alarms.  If your property does not comply with required standards you must 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.
  • Fire alarm and emergency lighting (if applicable) commissioning certificates. Or if installation was more than 12 months ago, a testing certificate completed in the last 12 months.
  • Copy of Photo ID (e.g. passport or driving licence). 

Renewal Licences - What you are required to submit with an application

  • Property floor plan: if the property plan from your original licence application is no longer accurate.  
  • Renewed safety certificates (gas, electrical, fire alarm, emergency lighting, portable electrical appliances) if any of them are out of date. 
  • An updated declaration that all upholstered furniture provided as part of the tenancy is fully compliant with fire safety regulations. 
  • An updated “Fit and proper person” declaration: this must be completed and signed by the proposed licence holder and any manager.
  • A written statement for each occupier of the terms on which they occupy the property, such as a tenancy agreement (if changed since last application).
  • Copy of Photo ID (e.g. passport or driving licence).

Changes or variations to an existing HMO licence

The current licence holder must apply for a Variation to an HMO licence if:

  • The current owner or manager changes, or if they change their name or address
  • You would like to increase the maximum number of occupiers
  • There are substantial changes to the property layout , capacity or accommodation
  • There is a change in management arrangements

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

Both the owner and the manager need to agree to the variation. A signed letter is required if the applicant is not acting as both owner and manager

This can be done by completing an application form. There is no fee for reporting a variation to your HMO Licence.


Licence terms and conditions and penalties for non compliance

The HMO licence will be valid for up to five years. It 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 licence will also  include details of mandatory licensing conditions that must be complied with. If the licence holder does not meet all the conditions of the licence there could be an unlimited fine for each breach and the licence may be revoked.

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

Refused HMO applications

If the council refuses to issue a licence it may issue an Interim Management Order (IMO) which allows the council to manage the property, including collecting the rent until suitable permanent arrangements can be made.  The IMO may last for a year or if it expires without necessary improvements or arrangements being made, 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.

The landlord may appeal a refused application 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 HM Courts and Tribunal Service First-tier Tribunal, normally within 28 days.

Revoking a Licence (Sale or conversion back to a single family dwelling

If the current licence holder sells the HMO, the licence will be revoked. 

  • if the property is to continue to be rented as a licensable HMO the new owner must apply for a licence in their own right
  • if the property is to change 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.

Licensed HMO Public Register

All HMOs that are licensed must be added to the HMO Licensed Public Register, the current version is:

Licensed HMO Register

It details the start date and length of the licence, name and address of the licence holder, name and address of the any managing agent and other information about the HMO such as the maximum number of tenants allowed, the number of rooms and other facilities.

Housing - Private Sector Housing

Private Sector Housing contact information

Postal Address: Civic Offices, 1 Saxon Gate East, Central Milton Keynes, MK9 3EJ