Does my Property need an HMO or other Licence?

5 or more Occupants 

If there are five or more people living in your property and just one of those people is not related* to the others then YES YOU DO!

So, wherever your property is in England, if you have five or more people (one or more of whom is not related) then you NEED a Mandatory HMO LICENCE).

You also are required under the Housing Act 2004 to comply fully with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations (2006). 

(*This is not the legal definition by the way – because like most legislation that’s not easy to understand.  Hopefully, this is in plain English that makes sense.)

3 or 4 Occupants 

If you have three or four occupants where one (or more) is not related, then your property is legally an HMO.

With three or four people,  your property does not need a Mandatory HMO Licence.


Many Councils have introduced what is called an “Additional HMO Licensing” scheme.  These schemes vary from Council to Council and even between different streets in a Council’s area. 

So, even if your property has three or four occupants you MUST CHECK to find out if it needs an “ADDITIONAL HMO LICENCE”.

You also are required under the Housing Act 2004 to comply fully with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations (2006). 

1 to 4 Occupants

AND… just in case that’s not enough – in some areas, a property let to one to four occupants may not need any form of HMO Licence, but it MAY still need A SELECTIVE LICENCE.

A Selective Licence applies to every rental property (that is not a licensable HMO) in specific areas defined by the local Council.

Not all Councils operate Selective Licensing areas – yet.  But the number of Councils doing so is increasing.

If your property is legally an HMO then, regardless of whether it needs any sort of licence, it is a criminal offence if you do not fully comply with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations (2006). 

Just to be clear: These Regulations kick-in at three occupants where one or more is not related.

Purpose Built Flats

There is an important exemption  to be aware of. The government have excluded purpose built self-contained flats within a block comprising three or more self-contained flats from the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.

HOWEVER: These purpose built flats could also still be licensable if your council has introduced an additional or selective licensing scheme in the local area.

Converted Flats 

Any building, or even part of a building on top of commercial, that was converted into flats (in the past or even recently) without proper Building Regulations sign-off is most probably what is known as a "Section 257 HMO".  Although the term HMO is used it's completely different to what you would normally think of as an HMO*.

It's horrendously complicated to work out what is and what is not a Section 257 - so if you're not 100% sure contact us for advice.

Even many councils are confused as to what is and what is not a Section 257 HMO!

Some buildings regularly come in and out of being Section 257 HMO's depending on which flats in the block are rented out or owner occupied.

In some council areas, where they have a Additional Licensing scheme, Section 257 HMOs need to be licensed. But not all Additional Licensing schemes include Section 257 HMOs.

Be aware also that all Section 257 HMOs must comply with The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 under which the council can issue multiple £30,000 fines.

(*This is not the legal definition by the way – because like most legislation that’s not easy to understand.  Hopefully, this is in plain English that makes sense.)

Get in touch now for Licensing Help

  • (tick all that apply)
  • Webform GF04
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Success Stories

Letting agent gives illegal HMO advice

16 May 2019 PLEASE SHARE WIDELY Des Taylor here.  I’ve just been working with a letting agent for a client and found the letting agent had a clear misunderstanding of what constitutes a HMO (House in Multiple Occupation). HMO is formed "when two or more households* occupy a dwelling and the number of occupants is three or more, then a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is formed. *...

Liverpool Council hands out 2,000 legal notices, 154 cautions, 89 civil penalty notices and 159 prosecutions

11 Apr 2019 A council has revealed the squalid conditions its inspectors have found when visiting rental properties as it looks to extend its landlord licensing scheme. Liverpool City Council has operated a city-wide selective licensing scheme since April 2015 but is now looking to extend it for five years when it expires in March 2020. Council officials say more rogue landlords have been...

Breaches of planning, overcrowding and licensing: all sorted with no casualties!

21 Oct 2019 Fantastic Morning, taking back a house for a long-established client from a company who had rented it for subletting, not telling the letting agent nor the landlord. None of the employees on the agreement ever lived there, last year it was found to be overcrowded with 10 occupants on a house only supposed to have 5 occupants and they had created a self-contained unit too. Breaches of...

20 Properties. No selective Licences.

A Landlord in the North West had been very ill and hadn’t been able to deal with the requirements of a Selective Licencing scheme introduced by his Local Authority and which affected 20 properties in his portfolio. The deadline was looming and he was unable to take action. We negotiated an extension of the deadline because of his illness and the fact that he had now appointed us to organise and...

Battle of Hastings: Upper Tribunal Decision underlines end of Magic Money Tree for Rogue Tenants and their No Win/NoFee allies

17 Mar 2021 In a landmark decision, the Upper Tribunal (Lands) has confirmed that the judgement of the First Tier Tribunal that “Rent Arrears must be accounted for BEFORE rent is eligible to be reclaimed under a Rent Repayment Order (RRO).” This Judgement of the First-Tier Tribunal (in a case defended by Des Taylor of Landlord Licensing & Defence), and now upheld by the Upper Tribunal,...

Judge tears into Northampton Council’s Samantha Ling and her department

14 Jun 2021 In a shocking, and embarrassing for Northampton Borough Council (NBC),  determination by Judge Wayte of the First Tier Tribunal property, he went so far as to suggest that the landlord should make a claim for costs against the Council.  A move that is almost unheard of, such was his condemnation of Samantha Ling and her department. Ling’s department is well known as priding...

Kedleston Road

Handled negotiations for the Client, a Tenant Company where the Letting Agent (as they so often do) was wrongly insistent on using an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, which was the incorrect agreement and not fit for purpose. (An AST is for individuals and not for Companies it is Housing Act 1.1 a. One ought to be able to expect better from Letting Agents!) Protracted negotiations, as we discovered as...

West London Company Let

The client was renting the residential property to a Company who help vulnerable young adults and was trying to ascertain if the property needed a licence. His tenant was a corporate company which was providing an immigrant orientation service and also providing their living accommodation.  On contacting us he had attempted to connect with the local Council a number of times to no response. ...

Letting Agent held to account by Landlords Defence

19 Jun 2019 11th June saw, for us, the first evidence of the Tenant Fee Ban (TFB) being misunderstood and a residential tenant being charged a £1000 holding deposit on a £1100 per calendar month rental starting 22nd June. On speaking with the tenants’ representative, consulting with the agent indirectly as a secret shopper, to confirm their misunderstanding, we engaged the tenant with the local...

Epsom Emergency Licence Application

It was 30th September 2018 at 4pm. This is highly significant because it was just 8 hours before new HMO licensing deadline of 1st October 2018. If an HMO application was not properly lodged by that deadline, significant Civil Penalty fines could apply. While the team was doing a HMO licence application on another property for this Landlord, he suddenly had the realisation that a house he was...

Rent Repayment Order Magic Money Tree is pretty much dead!

10 Aug 2020 by Des Taylor & Phil Turtle, Landlord Licensing & Defence “Rent Arrears must be accounted for BEFORE rent is eligible to be reclaimed under a Rent Repayment Order (RRO).” At a stroke, this Judgement of the First-Tier Tribunal (in a case defended by Des Taylor of Landlord Licensing and Defence) means that the no-win/no-fee become almost worthless for the lawyers, and far...

Newark and Sherwood

Prepared contractual agreement for the lease of residential property to be used for serviced accommodation. Defending landlord against Planning Contravention Notice issued by the Council for alleged change of use from C3 to Sui Generis without permission. Defended landlord against council allegation that Building Regulations had been contravened. Defended landlord against Environmental Health...

Solihull HMO

The property owner had owned the property for 20 years or so and two years previously had rented it to a corporation that had put 5 occupants into the property. From the 1st October 2018, all properties with 5 occupants, not all related, were required to have a Mandatory HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) Licence applied for by that date.  The corporation had agreed that it would carry out the...

Brentford Developer

A property developer had decided to change a three-bed semi-detached house into a 6 bedroom all en-suite HMO. Initially we inspected the property at purchase and contributed to best practice and design aspects to comply with planning use under permitted development and HMO Licensing.  As an expense saver and ongoing economy we suggested the removal of gas at the property and use of...

Kingston Prohibition Order

Defending a Prohibition Notice for both the Owner and the Subletting Landlord and replacing the subletting Landlord with a more suitable fit and proper Landlord in order to have the prohibition order withdrawn The owner is an elderly man and his daughter was dealing with the property and had let it to a subletting Company who was the Subletting (Rent to Rent) Landlord. The Owner and Subletting...

Fire Alarm Manufacturer tells engineer to put tenants lives at risk

By Des Taylor 15 May 2019 One of Landlords Defence’s clients had an inconceivable situation yesterday with a major manufacturer of interconnected smoke and heat detector fire alarm units. Our client had found problems some days ago with the units not working properly on test and had the manufacturer sent some replacements via the post, (reassuring the client that although the faulty ones were...

Putney – An Unexpected Solution

A Landlord had purchased a property and wanted to know how to turn it into a HMO and operate it legally as serviced accommodation. It was an ex-council terraced property.   Turning it into a HMO had not been an issue, however the quality of works which had been undertaken to do so was incredibly bad and would not pass regulations under any circumstances. This owner had not been paying proper...

HMO Advice

Whether you're planning a new HMO, renovating an existing HMO or simply want to ensure your current HMOs are fully compliant with the legislation and regulations you need professional HMO advice.

Your team of experienced landlords and developers here are specialists in HHSRS, Fire Risk Assessment, Planning, Refurbishment and Development are just a phone call away.

To give you HMO advice in London, the North, the Midlands and in fact the whole of England and Wales.

And these experts are on standby to help you whenever you need advice.

Click Here to find out now

HMO Services

If you need HMO Services in London, throughout England and Wales the specialists here at Landlord Licensing & Defence can assist you.

Here, you have access to a full range of HMO services including HMO Design, HMO planning permission, HMO Compliance, HHSRS, Fire Design, Fire Risk Assessment.

As well as HMO Amenity Standards Compliance, HMO Licensing Advice, HMO Licence Application Service, HMO Property Licensing and HMO Licence Condition Representations.

Click Here to find out now

HMO Design

Most landlords and their architects design HMOs without reference to the local HMO Amenity Standards.

They then apply for an HMO Licence only to find that the shiny new and expensively converted HMO is non-compliant on HHSRS or HMO Management Regulations.

In many cases the landlord only finds out when the council visits two years after the licence application and issues massive fines for non-compliance. Often £30,000 or even more.

Involving Certified HHSRS and fire risk assessors at the design stage and during the works can ensure that you get all of these design and compliance matters (which are over and above building regulations) right from the outset.

Click Here to find out now

Subscribe to receiveall the latest updates on regulation and legislation

Join our newsletter & mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our experts.

You have Successfully Subscribed!