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Houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

Guidance, information and documents to apply for a HMO licence.

Additional licensing for HMOs came into effect on 30 August 2021. Smaller HMO’s with three or more people sharing now require a licence.

We're committed to providing residents who wish to rent in Westminster with good quality and safe accommodation which is managed by responsible landlords or letting agents. This means working with landlords to create a more professional rented sector and tackling those who mistreat or fail to provide a decent, safe home to their tenants.

To help achieve this, as well as the Government’s Mandatory HMO Licensing Scheme, on 30 August 2021 we introduced licensing for other types of HMOs through the designation of a borough-wide Additional HMO Licensing Scheme. There is a requirement for smaller flat and house shares with three or more people forming two or more household to obtain a licence.

Landlords who fail to licence risk enforcement from the council.

Do I need a licence?

Mandatory HMO licence

Since 2006, it has been a legal requirement to licence all rented properties anywhere in the UK which are occupied by five or more people living as two or more separate households who share facilities. You can read more about the property types that require mandatory licensing on the government’s website.

Additional HMO licence

As part of Westminster’s Additional Licensing Scheme, shared houses or flats where three or more people from two or more households share facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom will also require licensing. This includes HMOs in purpose-built blocks that aren’t currently licensed under the mandatory scheme. These HMOs are sometimes referred to as Section 254 HMOs. Some forms of hostel and staff accommodation may also require a licence under Westminster's additional licensing scheme. 

Certain properties with no shared facilities may still be covered by Mandatory or Additional licensing if they have been converted into flats but all of the flats are not fully self contained. 

Household definition 

A household includes members of the same family living together and includes couples co-habiting. Half relatives and foster children are also included in the definition. A property with three unrelated people sharing would be considered three households. 

Licence holder

The most appropriate person to apply for a licence will be the 'person having control' of the property. This is normally the person who receives the rent.

In deciding whether to grant a licence, the council must be satisfied that the proposed licence holder is a fit and proper person. This requirement is to ensure that those responsible for operating the licence and managing the property are of sufficient integrity and good character to be involved in the management of a residential property and do not pose a risk to the welfare or safety of persons occupying the property.


Letting out or managing a licensable HMO without a licence and failure to comply with the requirements of a licence is an offence. This can result in an unlimited fine upon conviction or a civil penalty up to £30,000. Tenant may also be able to claim back up to 12 months rent if a landlord or agent has failed to obtain a licence. 

Report an unlicensed HMO

HMO licensing policy

Please refer to our HMO Licensing Policy for full details on licensing requirements, documentation, exemptions, and enforcement. A summary of our scheme, fees and how to apply can be read below:

HMO Licensing Policy 2021 PDF, 816.6 KB, 12 pages

Contact us

If you have a question for the property licensing team please email: [email protected]

Published: 30 December 2020

Last updated: 6 October 2023