Licensing of HMOs
2.12 Licensing of HMOs
The Housing Act 2004 introduced licensing of some categories of HMOs. It
is mandatory to license larger, higher-risk dwellings. Local authorities will
also be able to license other types of HMOs if they can establish that other
avenues for tackling problems in these properties have been exhausted.
2.12.1 Purpose of Licensing HMOs
Licensing is intended to make sure that:
1. a landlord of an HMO is a fit and proper person (or employs a
manager who is);
2. each HMO is suitable for occupation by the number of people
allowed under the licence; and
3. the standard of management of the HMO is adequate.
This is to ensure tenants are protected and that the dwelling is not
overcrowded. High-risk HMOs can be identified through licensing and
targeted for improvement by a local authority under the Housing Health
and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
2.12.2 HMOs Subject to Mandatory Licensing
Mandatory licensing applies if the HMO (or any part of it):
• comprises three storeys or more;
• is occupied by five or more persons, and
• the HMO is occupied by persons from two or more households.
The landlord of a licensable HMO must apply to the local authority for a
licence. The local authority can clarify whether a property is licensable.
If the landlord refuses to apply for a licence (or cannot satisfy the “fit and
proper” person criteria) and does not use a managing agent, the local
authority must manage the property instead.
More information about mandatory HMO licensing can be found below and
on the CLG website at www.communities.gov.uk.
2.12.3 Additional Licensing of HMOs
Part 2 of the Act introduced the mandatory licensing of certain types of
higher risk HMOs, and enables local authorities to establish discretionary
additional HMO licensing schemes, subject to approval from the Secretary
of State, to cover smaller types of HMO where management problems have been identified.
Before setting up such a scheme, the local authority must follow the legal
process which includes:
• identifying the problems arising from that type of HMO;
• considering whether any other course of action to deal with
the problems is available;
• ensuring the scheme is consistent with their local housing
• consulting with those likely to be affected including tenants,
landlords, landlord organisations etc.
A scheme does not come into effect until three months after it is made and
a scheme may last for up to five years.