Houses in multiple occupation

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Important changes to the law

From 1 October 2018, the legislation regarding the mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) will change

Any HMO that is occupied by five or more persons who form two or more separate households, and who share basic amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet, will require a license. See Section 254 of the Housing Act 2004 for the definitions of HMOs.

If you have a dwelling, you must apply for a license as soon as possible.

What is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?

This is a property rented out by at least three people who are not from one ‘household’ (e.g. a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’.

To read more about HMOs, visit the .GOV website

In Hounslow, with very few exceptions, every house in multiple occupation (HMO) must have a licence. 

New legislation on mandatory HMO licensing (effective from 1 October 2018) 

The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation

If you own or manage an HMO you should apply to us for a licence.

The new description for HMOs defines the following as requiring a license;

  • All houses with 5 persons (the previous 3 storey requirement has been removed) sharing facilities such as a bathroom, kitchen or both
  • All flats occupied by 5 persons.
  • Applies to each flat in a purpose built block with 2 flats.
  • Applies to a commercial unit with a flat above or below.
  • Single storey buildings with 5 persons.
  • Landlords must ensure appropriate  Waste disposal facilities are provided and managed appropriately.
  • It does not apply to a purpose built block of self-contained flats with 3 or more units.

However, in London Borough of Hounslow we operate an additional scheme which extends the statutory scheme to include;

  • Two or more storey properties occupied by four or more unrelated people, and
  • Properties converted into flats that do not comply with the 1991 or latest Building Regulations.

Please see our public information notice about the additional licensing scheme. 

If there are any concerns about the number of bins or recycling containers, please visit our waste and recycling web pages  or planning enforcement page

Apply online

It is a criminal offence to operate an HMO without a licence, and if convicted you could be liable to an unlimited fine. In addition, you may have to repay rent to your tenants and the council will reclaim Housing Benefit payments made to unlicenced HMOs.

If you are prosecuted it will probably be difficult for you to get a property licence in the future.

If a property should be licenced but isn’t, the landlord cannot serve notice to quit on a tenant until the licence has been obtained.

The Council also has powers to take control of a property. 

A HMO license does not grant planning permission.

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