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Licensing of houses in multiple occupation

Licensing of houses in multiple occupation

Information on the licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMO’s for short).

The 2004 Housing Act introduced the requirement that  larger, higher-risk HMOs, be licensed. This is because these types of property often have poorer physical and management standards than other privately rented properties. The people who live in HMOs are amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society. As HMOs are the only housing option for many people, the government recognises that it is vital that they are properly regulated.

Licensing is intended to make sure that: 

  • landlords of HMOs are fit and proper people, or employ managers who are

  • each HMO is suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the licence 

  • the standard of management of the HMO is adequate 

  • high risk HMOs can be identified and targeted for improvement.

Where landlords refuse to meet these criteria the council can intervene and manage the property so that:

  • vulnerable tenants can be protected

  • HMOs are not overcrowded 

  • councils can identify and support landlords, especially with regeneration and tackling antisocial behaviour.

Not all HMO’s need to be licensed however. Only HMO’s which meet ALL of the following criteria must be licensed:

  • three or more storeys high

  • have five or more people in more than one household, and

  • share amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities.

The Housing Act also allows Local Authorities to require additional or selective properties to be licensed, though at the current time North Kesteven District Council has not adopted such a scheme.

Please note that licensing only applies to HMOs where rents or other considerations are payable.

All HMOs are inspected by the District Council to assess whether they meet the required standards.

The Council will work with landlords, giving advice and information on any improvements required. Where necessary we will serve legal notices to secure improvements to HMOs in accordance with the Council’s Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy. If notices are not complied with, we may prosecute and carry out works in default to ensure the health and safety of HMO residents.

For further advice or information regarding HMOs please contact Environmental Protection on (01529) 414155.