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Houses in multiple occupation

Houses in multiple occupations (known as HMOs) are classed as such if:

  • There are three or more tenants
  • There are two or more households, in other words, the occupants are not all related to each other
  • The tenants share some basic amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet
  • The property is the only or main residence for all the occupants
  • The property is not used for any other purpose

There are other types of HMO and some exemptions to the definition given above. The legal definition of what makes a property an HMO can be found in sections 254 and 257 of the Housing Act 2004.

Some regulations apply to all HMOs to ensure that tenants do not live in unsafe or overcrowded accommodation. We will investigate concerns of poor housing conditions in HMOs and can take legal action against landlords if the problems are serious enough.

Landlords can apply for an HMO licence using the online application form below. Information about applying is available on this page.

Anyone can apply for a licence. A lot of conditions apply as to who can be licensed or involved in the management of licensable HMOs. Contact us using the online form at the bottom.

HMOs requiring a licence

Since 2006 landlords of some HMOs have been required to obtain a licence from the Council which places conditions on the way the landlord maintains and manages the property. The local authority carries out safety inspections and issues licences for homes of multiple occupancies to ensure that they are:

  • Safe
  • Not overcrowded
  • Are managed well by a 'fit and proper' person

The law changed in October 2018

The Government has changed the HMO licensing requirements so from 01 October 2018 the number of storeys that a property has is no longer relevant. This means a landlord/manager of an HMO will be required to hold a license if the property has:

  • Five or more occupants;
  • Forming more than two households

If you are a landlord/manager of an HMO that meets the above criteria you need to apply for a licence immediately. It is a criminal offence to operate a licensable HMO without a licence.

If you are unsure whether your property requires an HMO licence under the new definition you can complete the pre-application questionnaire in the downloads at the bottom of the page.

Applying for a HMO Licence as a landlord

You must complete the HMO licence application form and return it to the Council with the required fee. The guidance notes should be read before completing the application form from the downloads at the bottom of the page.

It can take up to three months from receipt of a complete application (including the submission of all the required documents) to determine the licence application and either grant or refuse the licence.

The application form must be accompanied by a number of documents which are listed on the application form.

You can apply using the online application form above.

HMO licences usually last for five years but this can occasionally be for a shorter period depending on the circumstances. The fee reflects the amount of work that the Council is required to carry out on a standard application and the monitoring during the licence period. There are reduced fees for applications to renew existing licences and for multiple applications received at the same time.

The fee is split into two parts; the application fee covers the cost of processing the licence and is non-refundable if the application is not successful or is withdrawn. There is a separate charge to cover the costs of the licensing scheme during the period of the licence, which is payable once a licence has been issued.

There are reduced fees where more than one application is made at the same time.

New licence application fees

Fee type App fee Monitoring fee Total
Standard £515.16 £279.20 £794.36
Subsequent £446.40 £279.20 £725.60

If you are making more than one new licence application at the same time the standard fee applies to the first application but each subsequent application is £446.40.

The monitoring charge payable once the licence is issued is £279.20. The total cost of a new HMO licence over the 5 year period is £794.36 (or £725.60 for subsequent applications).

Renewal licence application fees

Fee type App fee Monitoring fee Total
Standard £400.56 £279.20 £679.76
Subsequent £331.80 £279.20 £611.00

If you are making more than one renewal application at the same time the standard renewal fee applies to the first application but each subsequent application is £331.80

The monitoring charge payable once the licence is issued is £279.20. The total cost of a renewal HMO licence over the 5 year period is £679.76 or (£611 for subsequent applications)

A licence application will not be accepted until the application fee has been paid.

Payment can be made by:

  • Using our online application form
  • Cheque - please make it payable to "Blaby District Council" and include with the application form
  • In-person - you can pay at the Cashiers desk in the Council Offices at Narborough by debit/credit card only. Cash is not accepted at the Council Offices
  • Contacting us at our Narborough offices
Taking steps to ensure the property will not need a licence?

If you intend to change the occupancy of an HMO so that it will no longer require a licence, you can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice. This notice only lasts for three months (in exceptional circumstances it can be extended for a further three months) and we must be satisfied that your proposals to take the property out of needing a licence can realistically be achieved in that time.

If the property needs to be licensed but no application has been made for the licence or notice, it is not possible to lawfully evict tenants under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. If the application for a notice is approved the Section 21 rights are retained for the period of the temporary exemption notice. If the application is rejected, then the right to use Section 21 is lost. The courts will decide on the validity of any Section 21 notice served.

To apply for a notice, please complete the Temporary Exemption Notice application form in downloads at the bottom of the page.

Information on current HMOs

All licences are listed on our Public Register of HMO licences. If the property you suspect is not on that register, you can provide us with the address and other information that you think is useful.

However you choose to contact us, we will treat the information in the strictest confidence. We will never pass your details onto anyone involved in the management of the property.

It is a criminal offence to operate an HMO without a licence if it is required to have one. Landlords can be prosecuted in Magistrates Court and given an unlimited fine. In addition, the Council and tenants can apply for a rent repayment order and claim back up to 12 months rent/housing benefit payments. Alternatively, we may choose to issue a civil penalty which could be up to £30,000.

HMO licence conditions

All HMO licences must have mandatory conditions attached to them. These conditions cover issues including:

  • The maximum number of occupants and households
  • Gas safety
  • Electrical Safety
  • Fire safety
  • Kitchen and bathroom amenities
  • Management standards including the requirement for the license holder to be a fit and proper person
  • Landlord and tenant agreements

In addition, the Council can add discretionary conditions when deemed appropriate.

It is a criminal offence to break any of the licence conditions or to not maintain an HMO in a safe and reasonable condition. The landlord/licence holder can be prosecuted for this offence and fined an unlimited amount.

All licensed HMOs will be inspected as part of the application process and a further inspection will be conducted approximately halfway through the five-year term of the licence. We can carry out additional inspections if necessary, for example, if complaints from tenants are received.

If serious health and safety issues are identified we can take legal action to protect the occupants. This can include serving legal notices requiring the landlord to make repairs, or in the most serious cases, it can conduct emergency repairs or close all or parts of the property.

HMO standards and fire safety guidance

Before issuing a licence we must be satisfied that the property is suitable for the number of occupants applied for and that it is safe. The minimum space and amenity standards document that all licensed HMO must meet is available below

These standards vary depending on the type of HMO such as bedsits, shared houses (such as student houses), hostels etc. and cover:

  • Minimum bedroom sizes
  • The number of bathrooms and toilets required
  • The minimum size of the kitchen / shared living space and the number of cooking facilities

Following the introduction of legislation in 2018 prescribing minimum room sizes, the Council will allow some discretion on the size of bedrooms (minimum of 6.51 metre square for single bedrooms, 10.22 metre square for double bedrooms) where there is adequate communal living space.

The Government has issued guidance on fire safety to assist in understanding what has to be done for HMOs to comply with the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The intention of this guidance is to ensure that there is a consistent risk assessment approach in private rented properties by both Fire Services and Local Authorities. Compliance with the guidance should in most cases also satisfy the HMO licensing requirement.

It is a requirement that all HMOs (not just licensed HMOs) have a fire risk assessment conducted and the appropriate fire safety measures put in place.

Additional and Selective Licensing

Blaby District Council does not currently operate any Additional or Selective Licensing schemes for rental properties.

When does a HMO require planning permission?

Under permitted development rights it is lawful for any residential property in Blaby District to be an HMO as long as there are six or fewer occupants. If there are seven or more occupants the property requires a change of use planning permission to be a large HMO. The planning application process will consider whether the proposal is suitable for that location and will either be granted or rejected. It is a breach of planning control to have an HMO with seven or more occupants unless it has the required planning permission, and the Planning Enforcement team will investigate where this is suspected.

For further details on planning permission contact the Planning Department at Blaby District Council.

Link between HMO licensing and planning permission of large HMOs (seven or more occupants)

When processing an HMO licence application the Council considers how many persons the property would be suitable for (based on size and amenities) irrespective of the location and planning permission. However, all HMO licences contain the following caveat after stating how many occupants the licence permits:

“Please take note that this does not imply that planning permission for this number of occupants is hereby permitted. Planning permission must be obtained should the premises be intended to be occupied on a permanent basis by more than 6 persons.”

Therefore, should a property be given a licence for more than seven occupants, this does not override the planning controls and the landlord still cannot have seven or more occupants if they do not have the required planning permission. Being granted an HMO licence for seven or more occupants does not imply that it is suitable for planning terms and will not be a relevant factor in any subsequent planning application.

For further details on planning permission contact the Planning Department at Blaby District Council.

Further information on fire safety and how to do a fire risk assessment can be found on the website of Decent and Safe Homes in the East Midlands (DASH).

Downloads
Last updated 29 October 2019
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