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Licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property rented out by at least three people who are not from one ‘household’ (e.g. one family), but share facilities like the kitchen and bathroom. These are sometimes called ‘shared houses’.

You must have a licence if you are renting out a large HMO. This is called a mandatory HMO licence. Please note that from 1st October 2018 HMOs that are occupied by five or more people with any number of storeys will be licensable. This means that flats, converted flats and one or two storey properties will become licensable. Licensing will also apply to blocks of purpose-built flats where there are up to two flats in the block and one or both are occupied as an HMO. Your property is defined as a large HMO if all of the following apply:

  • it is rented to five or more people who form more than one household
  • it has any number of storeys
  • tenants share facilities, such as a W.C. compartments, bathrooms or kitchens

At present, South Gloucestershire Council only operates a mandatory HMO licensing scheme and has no additional or selective licensing schemes in place. Additional and selective licensing schemes are where other properties that are smaller and rented to fewer people also need licensing, depending on the area. This means that if you rent out properties in other local authority areas as well, you should check with the local authorities they are in to see if they also need to be licensed.

Restrictions

  • a licence is valid for a maximum of five years
  • you must renew your licence before it runs out
  • you will need a separate licence for each HMO that you run

Conditions

You must make sure that:

  • the house in suitable for the number of occupants (e.g. room sizes and numbers of facilities)
  • the manager of the house – either you or your agent, is considered to be a ‘fit and proper person’ (e.g. has no criminal record, or has not breached housing laws or codes of practice that apply to landlords)

You must also:

  • send the council a current gas safety certificate every year
  • install and maintain smoke alarms
  • provide an electrical safety certificate when requested

The council may also add other conditions to your licence, e.g. regarding management of the property or improving the standard of facilities. You will be informed of any additional conditions following an inspection of the property.

If you disagree with any conditions the council sets, you can appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal.

How to apply

HMO licences are administered by the Private Sector Housing team. HMO licence fees are calculated by combining two elements; the number of units of accommodation and the carrying out of a fit and proper person check.

Properties with up to five units of accommodation attract the standard fee of £596.00. An additional charge is then made for each additional unit of accommodation provided at the rate of £33.50 per unit.

Each person involved with the management of the property will also require a fit and proper person check unless they have already had a fit and proper person check completed within the last five years with another West of England authority. The West of England authorities include Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council and Bath & North East Somerset Council. If this is the case, you will need to provide your fit and proper person number on your application to confirm this. If not, then you will need to pay for a fit and proper person check to be completed, which is charged at the rate of £45.00. You will only require one fit and proper person check, so if you are licensing more than one property, you will only need to pay the required fee on the initial property licensed.

HMO licence application form

Please email your completed application form to: psechousing@southglos.gov.uk or post to Department for Environment and Community Services, Private Sector Housing, PO Box 1954, Bristol, BS37 ODD

For further information please call: Tel: 01454 864503

Fines and penalties

You could get an unlimited fine for renting out an unlicensed HMO

More information

For more information on HMO licensing, please visit our West of England website.

You can also read the guide for landlords and managers who manage HMOs for more information.

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