Licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMO)
The government has produced guidance for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors on measures relating to repossessions and property access, and health and safety obligations during the Covid-19 outbreak.
From 1 June 2020 new regulations came into force that require landlords to have an electrical installation condition report (EICR) in place for all new tenancies. The rules apply to all existing tenancies from April 2021. The government has issued guidance setting out how the new Electrical Safety Standards affect landlords and tenants. If you are unsure if your existing electrical certificate meets the new requirements please contact the Private Sector Housing Team.
We aim to ensure that HMO licence applications continue to be processed within a reasonable timescale. In line with government guidance in relation to the Covid-19 outbreak, we will not be carrying out inspections prior to the issue of HMO licences. At this time we would therefore request that landlords assist the licensing process by completing all sections of the HMO licence application form as fully as possible and by providing detailed floor plans with room measurements. Subject to the lifting of current restrictions, we will aim to carry out an inspection of the property within 6 months of the licence issue date. During this inspection the condition of the property will be assessed, and room sizes, layouts and amenities confirmed. If the information gathered is different from the application, your licence may be varied if necessary.
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.
- 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
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 £750.00. An additional charge is then made for each additional unit of accommodation provided at the rate of £37.00 per unit.
The general licence fee now includes any fit and proper person checks necessary to process the licence.
Email your completed application form to: email@example.com or post to Department for Environment and Community Services, Private Sector Housing, PO Box 1954, Bristol, BS37 ODD.
An HMO application is only considered to be valid on submission of a completed application form and payment of the full licence fee. If the application form is completed by a managing agent, details of the owner must be provided in section 5.
If you are using a Macintosh/portable device or if for any other reason you require a printable version of the application form, contact us on the email above. The online application form should only be completed digitally.
For further information call us on 01454 864503.
Fines and penalties
You could get an unlimited fine for renting out an unlicensed HMO.
Houses in multiple occupation (HMO) register
We maintain a public register of licensed HMOs (available under downloads) . HMOs are licensed for a period of up to five years from the licensed date. The register is updated online quarterly. If you require further information on HMO licensing, contact us on 01454 864503.
The government has launched an online, legal support pilot to help tenants resolve housing disrepair problems in private rented accommodation.
This online checker offers tailored information, guidance and signposting. It is designed to help tenants understand their rights and responsibilities, and identify an appropriate next step when trying to resolve problems before they escalate.