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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) within the private sector housing market are expected to be managed professionally by the landlords who own them. The licensing of HMOs is required for landlords to ensure these properties are kept to the required standards and are adequately managed.

Licensing of HMOs became mandatory in 2006. HMO licences last for five years, but they can be issued for shorter periods in some circumstances. A HMO licence will include the:

  • address of the licensed property
  • name and address of the licence holder
  • name and address of the person who holds management responsibility of the licensed property
  • maximum number of occupants who may occupy the HMO
  • period for which the licence is granted
  • conditions of the licence.

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HMO licence: property criteria

HMO licences are mandatory on any property that has five or more occupants. Properties classed as a HMO that needs a licence are those that meet the following criteria:

  • is an entire house or flat which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet
  • is a house that's been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self contained accommodation and is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities
  • is a converted house that contains one or more flats which are not wholly self contained, for example; the flat does not contain its own kitchen, bathroom and toilet; and of which is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households.

Of the above property types, the following test must be applied:

  • five or more persons live at the property, including children
  • there are two or more households (a household is defined as a group of related people)
  • there is some sharing of amenities, for example; people from more than one household share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.

Further information about HMO's is available on GOV.UK.

Properties exempt from HMO licensing

Certain types of property are not classed as HMOs and will not need a licence, such as:

  • two person flat share: a property or part of a property, lived in by no more than two households each of which consist of just one person
  • a property where the landlord and their household is resident with up to two tenants
  • buildings managed or owned by a public body, such as the police, NHS, Local Housing Authority or Registered Social Landlord
  • where the residential accommodation is ancillary to the principal use of the building, for example; religious establishments or conference centres
  • student halls of residence, where the education establishment has signed up to an Approved Code of Practice
  • buildings regulated otherwise than under the Act, such as care homes and bail hostels
  • buildings entirely occupied by freeholders or long leaseholders.

If you intend to stop operating your property as a HMO or reduce the number of occupants, you must give clear evidence of this to be able to apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice. This notice lasts for a maximum of three months and ensures that a property is in the process of being converted from a HMO and does not need to be licensed. If the situation is not resolved within three months, a second Temporary Exemption Notice can be issued. When the second notice expires, the property must be licensed and become subject to an Interim Management Order or cease to be an HMO.

HMO licence: person criteria

Anyone who owns or manages a HMO that meets the criteria for mandatory licensing must apply for a HMO licence. The licence application will refer to the applicant, proposed licence holder and manager of the property as follows:

  • Applicant: a landlord may arrange for someone other than the proposed licence holder or manager to complete the application form on their behalf
  • Proposed licence holder: the landlord of the property can hold the licence or nominate someone else, such as a manager or agent (with their agreement) to be the licence holder. Whoever holds the licence must be the appropriate person to hold the licence for the property. This is likely to be the person who receives the rent for the property
  • Manager: the landlord may not be involved in the day to day management of the property. In such circumstances, the person appointed by the landlord to manage the property will be the manager.

For a HMO licence to be issued, we must be satisfied that:

  • the proposed licence holder and any manager of the property is 'fit and proper'
  • the proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the licence
  • proper management standards are being applied at the property, including;
    • fire safety
    • gas and electrical safety
    • maintenance of common parts fixtures
    • maintenance of living accommodation
    • furniture safety
  • the HMO is reasonably suitable or can be made suitable for occupation by the number of tenants allowed under the licence, with at least the minimum prescribed standards of amenities and facilities; these include the number, type and quality of shared bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities.

If you fail to meet these standards, licences could be revoked and an Interim Management Order (IMO) may be issued.

Apply for a HMO licence

If you're a landlord who operates a HMO in the Bury borough that has five or more occupants from two or more households, you must apply for a licence.

When applying online for a HMO licence, you'll need to:

  1. register the manager of each HMO property
  2. register the proposed licence holder of each HMO property
  3. register each HMO property to be licensed.

After you're application has been accepted and acknowledged, you'll be informed to make the appropriate payment for the HMO licence.

Register the HMO property manager

The manager of the property should submit their registration form if they're not already registered. This person may be an employed 'managing agent' or the landlord if they manage their own property and will need to complete a basic DBS check dated within the last three months.

Once the manager is registered and approved you will be notified. You will need to wait for this approval before you can complete the register of properties.

Register the proposed HMO licence holder

The person who is going to hold the licence should complete the proposed licence holder registration if they're not already registered and will need to complete a basic DBS check dated within the last three months.

Once the licence holder is registered and approved you will be notified. You will need to wait for this approval before you can complete the register of properties.

Register the HMO properties

Anyone can complete the HMO property registration after the property manager and licence holder applications have been approved.

If you have not yet received approval confirmation for both the HMO property manager and HMO licence holder applications, you will not be able to complete the HMO property register.

HMO licence: costs

  • £576.29: administration fee for the licensing of a HMO occupied by no more than 5 persons or lettings
  • £23.70: fee for each additional letting unit above 5 persons or lettings
  • £84.02: fee for new licence holder applications and to issue a new licence, where no additional inspections are needed.

If you've fully completed a HMO application and have received acknowledgement from the Urban Renewal Section, you can make a HMO licence payment online.

Houses in Multiple Occupation licensing FAQs