Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) can offer good quality affordable accommodation to people who cannot afford to buy their own homes and are not eligible for council housing.

Landlord or managing agent responsibilities

It's your responsibility as the landlord or managing agent to apply for an HMO licence.

  • It is an offence to operate a HMO without having obtained a licence. HMOs operating without a licence are now subject to an unlimited fine.
  • Any Housing Benefit paid to you for an unlicensed HMO can be repayable to us subject to a residential property tribunal order.
  • In some circumstances, tenants can apply to a residential property tribunal for a rent repayment order if they've paid rent to you (up to a limit of 12 months) if you have failed to obtain a HMO licence.

We encourage landlords to apply for licensing through advice and persuasion. If you fail to apply as a result of such informal action we will take legal proceedings with a view to prosecution in the courts.

Similarly, any breach of conditions will initially be dealt with informally, but if the breach continues we will start legal proceedings.

Risk assessment

A landlord is responsible to ensure his or her property is safe for the occupants and must carry out a risk assessment.

We will need to inspect the property to carry out a risk assessment and to determine if any works are necessary. We do this using the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS).

The HHSRS is an enforcement tool used to identify matters which adversely affect the health and safety of occupiers in their home.

Failing to comply with licence conditions is subject to a fine of up to £5,000 per offence.

See also Landlords' rights and responsibilities.