HMO Licensing

“HMO” stands for a House of Multiple Occupancy.  If you are the landlord of a residential property renting to three or more tenants you may require an HMO licence.

Different councils apply different rules. In Oxford, for example, the City Council requires an HMO Licence for properties with three or more tenants if certain other criteria exist; whereas with most other councils no licence will be required unless there are five or more tenants.

Despite local councils claiming that they have embarked on a process to educate people about the licence requirements, in our experience many landlords remain completely unaware of the requirement to obtain an HMO licence.

Councils are increasingly conducting spot checks on properties which they believe may be unlicensed. Often these checks take place in the early hours of the morning.  We are dealing with an increasing number of investigations and prosecutions relating to HMO licences, which suggests that councils are keen to prosecute infringements.  Conviction will result in a criminal record and, more often than not, substantial fines reaching figures of £20,000 per infringement.

There are however significant evidential difficulties in successfully prosecuting these offences, of which those without representation may not be aware.  Our specialist lawyers at Reeds have an excellent track record in successfully representing landlords, even where they had no knowledge of the HMO licence requirements. We can also advise landlords as to whether an HMO licence is required at all, as well as on what needs to be done to acquire one.

Once the council grant a license they will impose conditions which must be complied with. These may require, for example:

The installation of wired smoke alarms, to be kept in proper working order;

To keep all appliances and furniture in good condition;

To provide tenants with a notice of the terms on which they occupy the HMO;

To comply with any other conditions imposed by the Council; and

To provide annual gas safety certificates

If you disagree with the conditions that the council has imposed, then you can lodge an appeal.

If you wish to discuss HMO licences, or you are contacted by a council regarding an HMO matter, please contact our licensing experts Julian Richards or Stuart Matthews.  Alternatively, click here to complete your details, and one of the team will contact you as soon as possible.

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