A-Z of Services

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.

A HMO is defined in Part 7 of the Housing Act 2004.  They are buildings, parts of buildings or flats where:

• A building which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share an amenity e.g. a bathroom or a kitchen (the standard test)
• A flat in which more than one household shares a basic amenity e.g. a bathroom or kitchen (self-contained flats test)
• A building which has been converted and does not entirely consist of self contained flats (converted building test)
• A building which is comprised of converted self-contained flats and the standards of the conversion does not meet, at the minimum, the standards required by the 1991 Building Regulations, and less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied (Section 257 HMO)


There are exemptions, these include:

• Properties under the management or control of a local housing authority a registered social landlord or certain other public bodies
• Properties regulated under enactments such as children’s homes, care home and bail hostels
• Students studying a full time course of further education and higher education at a specified education establishment which manage the building and the specified education establishment is subject to an approved Code of Practice
• Properties occupied for the purpose of a religious community whose main occupation is prayer, contemplation, education or the relief of suffering.  The exemption does not apply to S257 HMOs
• Properties occupied by a resident landlord, family and not more than 2 unrelated persons
• Properties occupied by only two persons each of whom form a separate household


So what is a Household?

• A single person living alone, without partners or relatives; three friends sharing would be considered as three households
• Couples (including co-habiting and same sex couples)
• Relatives living together, including parents, grandparents, children and step-children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins. Half relatives and foster parents/children are treated as full relatives.
• Domestic staff who do not pay rent but live in the same property as the employer

In all cases the property must be the main residence.

Please note, if you are changing the use of a property to an HMO you are strongly advised to consult with the planning department first before any conversion works commence or before applying for a licence.  If planning permission is unlikely to be approved, a HMO licence will have no bearing on the matter should the Planning Office consider it necessary to pursue formal action.

If you are a landlord and you own a HMO you may require an HMO licence.

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
• sharing facilities (e.g. bathroom or kitchen)

The most common form of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) is where three or more unrelated persons occupy a property, share amenities and pay rent for their own bedroom.  However there are ways in which the occupation of a building, or part of a building can constitute a HMO, these are defined in section 254-259 of the Housing Act 2004. (See what is an HMO as detailed above)

Landlords who fail to comply with the licensing reform will be committing a criminal offence.  The changes are intended to improve the overall standards and safety of letting in England generally.

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 also need to obtain annual gas safety certificates and submit a copy to the Council yearly, 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 un discharged 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.

Please note there is a small charge levied by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) when applying for a certificate disclosing your criminal record status.

Please be aware if you operate and HMO without a licence from October 1st 2018 you will be committing a criminal offence.  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.


Please contact the Private Sector Housing Team on 01562 732190 for the necessary application form.  You will also need to submit payment for the application

In order for us to grant you a licence we must be satisfied that:

• The proposed licence holder and any manager of the property is a ‘fit and proper’ person
• The proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the licence
• Proper management standards are being applied at the property
• The HMO is reasonably suitable, or can be made suitable for occupation by the number of tenants allowed under the licence and has at least the minimum prescribed standards of amenities and standards

The licensing application form contains questions which will enable us to decide whether or not the landlord and the property meet the criteria in order to qualify for an HMO licence.

A separate licence application is required for each individual HMO property.  The current fee for a HMO licence is set at £785.00 (or £575 if the application is submitted and complete with 21 days).

Information within the application form details what information is required along with the application submission in order for an application to be valid.


Who must hold the licence?

Either the landlord or someone they nominate (such as a manager or agent) can hold the licence, provided that that person is in agreement.  The licence must be held by the most appropriate ‘fit and proper’ person.  In determining whether a licence holder is ‘fit and proper’ the Council will consider:

• Any previous convictions relating to violence, sexual offences, drugs and fraud
• Whether the proposed licence holder has broken any laws relating to housing or landlord and tenant issues
• Whether the person has been found guilty of any unlawful discrimination
• Whether the person has previously managed HMOs that have broken any approved code of practise


What if I hold a licence but my circumstances change?

If you want to increase the number of bedrooms in your HMO you will need to apply for a variation to the existing licence.  Increasing the number of rooms may mean that an increase in facilities e.g. kitchens and bathrooms, may also be required.

If your licence is held by a managing agent who no longer acts on your behalf, the licence will need to be revoked and the new managing agent or alternative proposed licence holder will need to apply for a licence in their own right. 

If you sell the property and you are the HMO licence holder, then the existing licence will be revoked and the new owner will need to apply for a licence in their own right if it is to continue as an HMO.

If the property ceases to be an HMO before the expiration of its licence you can request in writing that the licence be revoked or allow the licence to run until it expires and then notify the Council that it is no longer required.

Can a HMO Licence be refused?

Yes, if the council decide that you or the proposed licence holder are not a ‘fit and proper’ person, or the property does not meet the required conditions and there is no way of appointing an alternative licence holder or bringing the property up to a standard within an acceptable time period we can refuse to issue you with an HMO licence.                                

HMOs have a higher risk of fire than single family dwellings.  This is due to increased occupancy, multiple ignition sources, vulnerable occupants, poor construction and lack of fire preventative measures.

Fire safety is assessed on a case by case basis and each property is different.  Therefore it is difficult to give general advice.  If you require specific advice for your property please contact the Private Sector Housing Team to discuss further.

Fire safety is included in the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) and is enforced by the Council.  Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service also inspect communal areas of HMOs for certain high rise blocks of self contained flats or flats that are above commercial premises with no separate access for fire safety issues.

Landlords if you think you may own an HMO that does not meet the current standards or you think the property may require a licence then please contact a member of the Private Sector Housing Team on the contact details provided below.  We can also advise you if your property is an HMO if you are unsure if you meet any of the HMO property criteria.

In order to assess the suitability of a property for occupation as an HMO the council has produced a HMO Policy.  This document sets out minimum requirements including provision for WCs, bathrooms and kitchen facilities, room sizes and fire protection and warning systems depending on the type of property in question.

Our HMO Policy can be viewed here

Tenants, in the first instance please contact your landlord or managing agent and let them know that you have a problem, this will give them the opportunity to put things right.  You should keep a note of the date and details of which you contact the landlord with.  If you do not believe that you have received a satisfactory response within two weeks then please contact the Private Sector Housing Team.

If we receive a complaint regarding a HMO via tenants concerns or following on from a housing survey then a full property inspection will be undertaken.  We are duty bound to ensure that the property meets the current standards and regulations.  The landlord will also be invited to attend this inspection.

We will always try to resolve any issues informally but the Council does have powers to enforce legislation if deemed necessary.

HMO properties will be inspected using the Housing Health and Safety Rating system.  Any properties found to be lacking in measures will need to comply with the current legislation and we will work in partnership with landlords to achieve this.  Enforcement action under the Housing Act 2004 and The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 will only be taken where it is deemed as necessary.

Wyre Forest District Council's Enforcement Policy relates predominantly to the Housing Act 2004 but also covers other housing legislation relating to the private rented sector.  It sets out the circumstances whereby enforcement action, such as the service of a statutory notice or the prosecution of an individual, may be taken if standards are not met. 

Our Enforcement policy can be viewed here

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: privatesectorhousing@wyreforestdc.gov.uk

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

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