From 1 October 2018, changes to the Housing Act 2004 extend mandatory licensing to include any House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) occupied by 5 or more people in 2 or more households, where householders lack or share bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities, which is:

  • a house converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self contained accommodation
  • a converted house containing 1 or more flats
  • a building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and more than a third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies
  • a building subject to a ‘HMO Declaration’ under section 255, Housing Act 2004

The occupants are all considered to be part of the same household (Section 258 Housing Act 2004) if they are all members of the same family. That includes people living together as husband and wife or in a similar same sex relationship, plus others related to them as parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or cousin. A half-blood relationship is treated the same as full blood and a stepchild is treated the same as a child. Three unrelated friends sharing together are considered to be 3 households; a couple sharing with a third unrelated person would constitute 2 households; a family renting a property is a single household.

The property must be used as the tenants’ only or main residence. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence.

If the above apply and the premises is not exempted on other grounds then the property must have a Mandatory HMO Licence:

A guide to licensing for landlords and managers is available on GOV.UK. Our HMO licensing guidance document also covers the application process in detail and answers key questions about HMO licensing.

HMO licensing conditions

The following conditions must also be met:

  • the floor area of any room in a HMO used as sleeping accommodation by 1 person aged over 10 years is not less than 6.51m²
  • the floor area of any room in a HMO used as sleeping accommodation by 2 persons aged over 10 years is not less than 10.22m²
  • the floor area of any room in a HMO used as sleeping accommodation by 1 person aged under 10 years is not less than 4.64m²
  • any room in a HMO with a floor area of less than 4.64m² is not used as sleeping accommodation
  • landlords of licensed HMOs comply with any relevant local authority waste scheme relating to the storage and disposal of household waste at the HMO pending collection

Floor area with a ceiling height of less than 1.5m cannot be counted in any total floor area calculation. A room is used as sleeping accommodation if it is normally used as a bedroom, whether or not it is also used for other purposes.

Where a breach is found to exist regarding room sizes, local authorities will be able to grant a period not exceeding 18 months to rectify the situation.

Detailed guidance for local authorities has been published on GOV.UK; we have developed our Local Implementation Policy.

Exemptions to HMO licensing

The Housing Act 2004 and associated regulations list certain exemptions from HMO licensing including:

  • any property occupied by just 2 people who form 2 households
  • buildings managed by a local housing authority, registered social landlord, police or fire & rescue authority or a health service body
  • buildings already regulated under certain other statutory provisions (Schedule 1 to SI 2006 Number 373)
  • certain student halls of residence
  • buildings occupied principally for the purposes of a religious community whose principle occupation is prayer, contemplation, education or the relief of suffering
  • buildings owner occupied with no more than two lodgers

HMO licensing updates

You can get further updates when available by:

Also see

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