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Houses in Multiple Occupation

From  October 1st 2018, the Government will increase the mandatory licensing of HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) nationwide.  This means that more rented properties will have to comply with licensing requirements.

The law requires that all properties which meet the following criteria will be subject to mandatory licensing:

  • If the property is inhabited by five or more people
  • living in two or more separate households : A household is classed as an immediate family (parents and children), partners (married, civil partnership or co-habiting), or individuals
  • sharing facilities (bathroom or kitchen)

Private Sector Housing will acknowledge receipt of an application for HMO licence within 5 working days of its receipt.  Once a complete and valid HMO licence application is received we will process the application and issue the licence and associated conditions within 21 working days

Landlords who fail to comply with the licensing reform by October 1st 2018 will be committing a criminal offence.  The changes are intended to improve the overall standards and safety of letting in England generally and the Council has a range of sanctions that it may seek to apply, including instigating prosecutions proceedings (carrying an unlimited fine), issuing a financial penalty (of up to £30,000), and recovering rent paid by tenants through a Rent Repayment Order.

Private landlords are also unable to secure possession using Section 21 possession proceedings where an unlicensed property is required to be licensed.

The definition of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is 'houses or flats which have been divided into separate units of accommodation and are occupied by persons who do not form a single household'. So, this includes shared housing where the residents are not living as a family.

In these types of dwellings rates of death by fire is far greater, up to six times greater for bedsits, than in family or singularly occupied dwellings. The risk of fire deaths dramatically increases the more storeys a building consists of. We generally regard all properties of three storeys and above as higher risk.

It is also essential to ensure there are adequate facilities in such properties, for example a sufficient number of toilets, showers etc and reasonable space standards so they are not overcrowded.

Read the Houses in Multiple Occupation Policy 2018. This document sets out the policy for licensing under the Housing Act 2004 by ensuring all licensable HMOs have appropriate arrangements in place.

Please view HMO Policy Document 

Landlords will need to apply to the Wyre Forest District Council for an HMO Licence where this criteria is applicable to your property.  Licences are valid for a maximum of 5 years and a licence will be required for each HMO that you own.

Landlords of HMOs need to make sure that the house is suitable for the number of occupants and the licence holder is ‘fit and proper’.  In addition to holding a valid licence landlords will need to obtain annual gas safety certificates, install and maintain smoke alarms, provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances and installations when requested and meet any other conditions as set by the authority.

A landlord will also need to be deemed as a ‘fit and proper person’.  In the first instance a licence may be denied if evidence is provided that proves that the person in question has been convicted of a criminal offence involving fraud, dishonesty, drugs, violence or sexual abuse, or if the proposed licensee has practised unlawful discrimination or broken any housing law relating to housing, landlord or tenant law.

Additionally if the proposed landlord does not have the correct permissions to enter or remain in the UK, or is insolvent or an undischarged bankruptcy they may also be denied a licence.

None of these factors would automatically disqualify a person from being considered as a ‘fit and proper’, as every case is judged on the individual circumstances. There is a small charge levied by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) when applying for a certificate disclosing your criminal record status.

If we receive notification of a HMO through a tenant complaint or housing survey we are duty bound to ensure that the property meets the current standards. We also carry out surveys to actively identify HMO properties and have a yearly inspection programme for such properties.

If you think you may own a HMO that does not meet the current standards we can provide advice on upgrading works. We may also be able to provide some grant assistance.

We will always try to resolve problems informally but do have powers to enforce safety legislation if required. This could include prohibiting all or some part of the property if significant hazards are identified.

Officers will provide a response within 5 working days unless deemed urgent due to apparent imminent risk when a response within 1 day will be provided.

Further Information

For further information and advice on Houses in Multiple Occupation you can contact the Private Sector Housing Team in the following ways:

Telephone : 01562 732190
Email : Worcestershire Hub

View Documents

View HMO Policy Document


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Wyre Forest District Council