HMO Licensing process

HMO landlords need to complete the application process for each of their HMO properties.

Documents required in support of an application should, whenever possible, be submitted electronically (you can submit documents in paper format, but please note these cannot be returned).

An application can only be considered valid and available for processing when all relevant documentation has been provided and the appropriate licence fee paid.

Information and documentation needed to make a valid application

  • name, address and contact details for the applicant, proposed licence holder and any proposed manager of the HMO. Evidence of permanent residential or business address, as applicable, is required
  • any relevant Building regulations completion certificate and planning consent.
  • a current fire alarm test certificate – if applicable
  • a current emergency lighting system test certificate – if applicable
  • a periodic inspection report for the electrical installation – dated within the previous 5 years
  • a recent portable appliance test (PAT) certificate – if applicable
  • a current Gas Safety Certificate for all gas appliances in the property
  • a written Fire Safety Risk Assessment – if available
  • a copy of tenancy agreement(s)
  • a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate – if applicable
  • evidence of management arrangements, e.g. for dealing with emergencies, repairs and maintenance issues, regular property checks, cleaning of common areas, fire evacuation and testing procedures
  • evidence of protection of any deposits taken from tenants
  • basic disclosure and barring service (DBS) check for Proposed Licence Holder and Manager

Giving notice of application

As part of the application process, the applicant must inform relevant persons that an application for an HMO licence is being made. The persons who need to know about it are:

  • any mortgagee of the property to be licensed
  • the owner of the property to which the application relates, i.e. the freeholder and any head lessors
  • any other person who is a tenant or long leaseholder of the property or any part of it (including any flat) other than a statutory tenant or other tenant whose lease or tenancy is less than three years (including a periodic tenancy)
  • the proposed licence holder
  • the proposed managing agent (if any)
  • any person who has agreed to be bound by any conditions in a licence if it is granted

Each of these persons must be provided with the following information:

  • the name, address, telephone number, email address and fax number (if any) of the applicant
  • the name, address, telephone number, email address and fax number (if any) of the proposed licence holder
  • that this is an application for an HMO licence under Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004.
  • the address of the property to which the application relates
  • the name and address of the Local Housing Authority to which the application will be made
  • the date the application will be submitted

On receipt of a valid application, the council will decide whether to grant or refuse a licence in accordance with the requirements set out in the Housing Act 2004 and associated regulations.

The council intends to inspect all licensable HMOs prior to issuing a licence, with the exception of those HMOs owned by Accredited Landlords or those HMOs known to be compliant based on a recent inspection.

The council will grant or refuse a licence based on whether:

  • the property in question is reasonably suitable for occupation by the number of persons or households specified in the application
  • the proposed licence holder is a ‘fit and proper’ person
  • the proposed manager of the HMO or an agent or employee of that person is a fit and proper person, and
  • the proposed management arrangements for the HMO are satisfactory

The council has adopted amenity and space standards for licensable HMOs.

Licences may be granted with various conditions, including works of repair or improvement to be completed within a given period to meet the requirements of HMO Management Regulations and the adopted standards.

Licence Holders

The council must be satisfied that a proposed licence holder is a fit and proper person and is the most appropriate person to be the licence holder for the house. The government has decided that certain convictions preclude a person from being considered fit and proper and therefore the council must take into account any previous unspent convictions for the following matters when deciding whether an applicant for an HMO licence is fit and proper:

  • violence, sex offences, fraud or drugs
  • housing or Landlord and Tenant laws
  • unlawful discrimination

The proposed licence holder must declare any matters which the council must have regard to and a basic DBS check will be requested. Previous failures of management of an HMO which have resulted in enforcement action by the council may preclude the proposed licence holder from holding a licence.

In the majority of cases the licence holder will be the owner and manager of the HMO and, in practice, will also be the person in control of the house. This is a term usually used to describe the person who receives the rent and who would also be the person able to authorise expenditure on the property, e.g. for repairs or improvements.

Landlords who employ managers or agents to run the HMO on a day to day basis should be aware that these persons must also certify, as part of the application process, that they are fit and proper to be the manager of the house and provide a basic DBS check. They must also be a member of one of the approved property redress schemes.

In cases where a company is proposed as a licence holder there would be corporate responsibility and directors would be subject to fit and proper person assessment and bound by licence conditions. The council would, if required, take action against the company for non compliance and failures. An alternative would be to nominate somebody from the company to be the licence holder.

Sanctions and Penalties

  • the Council may refuse or revoke a licence. This would prevent the landlord from letting the property as an HMO unless the authority is satisfied that suitable alternative management has been put in place. Where a landlord is deemed not to be fit and proper, they have the option of putting an alternative manager in place, e.g. a local managing agent, with the agreement of the council. Where no alternative can be found and the property is occupied, the authority has to make an interim management order. This will ensure that the property is properly managed until a longer-term solution can be found. If a solution cannot be found within 12 months, the authority can make a final management order.
  • landlords letting a licensable HMO without a licence commit an offence punishable by an unlimited fine.
  • failure to licence a licensable HMO could lead to a Rent Repayment Order being made. Such an order is made on application to a Residential Property Tribunal, and may require the landlord to repay rent to the occupier or, if in receipt of Housing Benefit, to repay the Housing Benefit to the local authority.
  • landlords of unlicensed HMOs may not use a Section 21 notice under the Housing Act 1988, to recover possession of a shorthold tenancy.
  • a landlord of a licensed HMO, who knowingly permits occupation by more households or persons than is authorised in the licence commits an offence punishable by an unlimited fine.
  • a licence holder on whom restrictions or obligations are imposed under a licence and he fails to comply with any condition of the licence commits an offence punishable by an unlimited fine.

Email the HMO team for further information