Housing Act Guide

Main Topic

HMOs And Licensing

HMO rules are extremely complex and difficult to keep up with –
as such you can get unlimited help and support via the RLA’s professional Landlord Advice Team

As from 6th April 2006 new legislation was introduced to govern houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).  HMOs include residential accommodation such as bedsits, flats and shared houses (such as those occupied by students and young people).   HMOs also include hostels, bed and breakfast accommodation, refuges, residential accommodation for migrant workers, seasonal workers, and asylum seekers, as well as private halls of residence for students and nurses.  For more information about HMOs see What Is An HMO.

Certain larger HMOs are subject to Mandatory HMO Licensing.  Where a local authority considers that other types of HMO which are not subject to mandatory licensing are poorly managed, then it can designate an area for Additional HMO Licensing.  Where an area is subject to additional HMO licensing then the same rules will apply as if the HMOs in question were subject to mandatory HMO licensing.   There are currently no areas in the Country where Additional HMO Licensing applies.  However, Deemed Additional Licensing (Transitional) Licensing applies in those areas which operated old style HMO Registration Schemes.

Not all HMOs require a licence.  Non Licensable HMOs are subject to the HMO Management Regulations which lay down requirements as to the way in which the HMO is operated and can also be regulated to prevent overcrowding.

All residential accommodation, including HMOs (whether licensable or not) are subject to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). HHSRS enables local authorities to enforce standards in all types of residential accommodation.  Not only are HMOs governed by HMO legislation they are also subject to HHSRS. 

The rules for deciding whether or not residential accommodation is an HMO are complex.  The RLA has developed a Unique Property Selector which will tell you whether your property is an HMO or not and if it is an HMO whether or not it needs a licence.  It will also tell you about Fire Safety as it applies to a particular property and give you practical tips on how to comply with the relevant fire safety requirement for the property. It will identify which fire safety legislation applies to the property.

Certain properties which would otherwise be HMOs are exempt see Exemptions, although no residential accommodation is exempt from HHSRS requirements.

Local authorities have power to impose Selective Licensing in areas of low housing demand and/or anti social behaviour.  Selective licensing applies to all types of residential properties which are rented out, except licensable HMOs, which, of course, have to be licensed anyway.  Some local authorities have introduced this.

For more general information see:

This document was last updated on: 17/05/2007

General Disclaimer

IMPORTANT: Our website (including the Unique Property Selector) can only give general guidance. You always need to specifically check the status of any property individually and take appropriate advice including general guidance from the local authority where it is located.

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