Borough Council of Wellingborough

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

What is a House in Multiple Occupation?

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is defined as a property occupied by three or more persons (including children) who form more than one household. This includes buildings converted into self-contained flats (which do not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations).

A household may be a single person or several members of the same family. For example:

a) a house occupied by a brother, sister and one other unrelated occupant would form two households;

b) three unrelated persons would form three households.

The tenancy agreement is not relevant in determining if a house is a HMO. Nor is the size of the property (e.g. the number of storeys).

Do I require a HMO license?

All HMO’s of 5 occupants or more are now licensable regardless of how many floors they have.

Purpose built flats where there are up to two flats in the block and one or both of the flats are occupied by 5 or more persons in 2 or more separate households. This will apply regardless of whether the block is above or below commercial premises. This will bring certain flats above shops on high streets within mandatory licensing as well as small blocks of flats which are not connected to commercial premises.

As is the case now, it is the individual HMO that is required to be licensed and not the building within which the HMO is situated. This means that where a building has two flats and each is occupied by 5 persons living in 2 or more households, each flat will require a separate HMO licence.

HMO Standards

The Council is responsible for checking Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) to make sure they are in a satisfactory condition, have adequate means of escape from fire, sufficient bathrooms and kitchens, adequate space and proper management.

Penalties for renting a licensable HMO without a licence?

Failure to licence an HMO or to permit a breach of the licence conditions could result in any of the following penalties:

  • A financial penalty of up to £30,000
  • Prosecution resulting in a criminal record and an unlimited fine
  • A Rent Repayment Order to recover up to 12 months' worth of rent paid by housing benefits to the landlord/agent directly or by the tenant. Tenants including former tenants living at the property whilst it was unlicensed or the Local Authority may apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) (FTT) for a Rent Repayment Order (RRO)
  • Interim Management Order (IMO)
  • The landlord cannot issue a section 21 "Notice Requiring Possession" during the period the property in unlicenced

How do I apply for a licence?

To find out more information about HMO licensing and to request an application pack, please contact The Central Licensing Unit.

The Public Register can be found via The Central Licensing Unit.