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Houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

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

Published on: 30 December 2020

Last updated: 6 September 2021

Additional licensing for HMOs came into effect on 30 August 2021. A broader range of properties now require a licence. 

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property which is occupied by three or more people who are not from one household. HMOs include buildings where facilities are shared, but can also include buildings divided into self-contained flats. 

The most appropriate person to apply for the licence is normally the landlord or managing agent, if they are receiving all rents directly. 

We introduced an additional licensing scheme on 30 August 2021, requiring a broader range of HMOs to obtain a licence.

Obtain a copy of the Additional Licensing Designation

The HMO additional licensing designation will cease to have effect on 30 August 2026. The date of 31 August 2026 stated in the public notice of the designation was in error.

Do I need a licence?

HMOs include house and flat shares, bedsits and studio's with shared facilities and also some forms of hostel and staff accommodation. Certain buildings converted into fully self-contained flats are also considered HMOs and require a licence under Westminster's additional licencing scheme. 

Do you need a HMO licence ? Do you need a HMO licence ?
HMO Licence Checker PDF, 124.79 KB, 2 pages

Shared houses and flats

This category describes shared houses or flats where three or more people share facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom and the property is occupied by two or more households.

As part of the Additional Licensing Scheme, small HMOs occupied by 3 or more people from 2 or more households will require licensing. This includes HMOs in purpose-built blocks that aren’t currently licensed under the mandatory scheme. The scheme comes into effect on 30 August 2021.

Buildings converted to flats

From 30 August 2021, some buildings converted into self-contained flats will require licensing. These are considered Section 257 HMOs.

In order to be classed a Section 257 HMO, there are two conditions that must be met.

The conditions are that:

  • more than a third of the flats must be tenanted, for example let to Assured Shorthold Tenants, licensees or protected tenants (less than two thirds owner occupied)
  • the building does not comply with the 1991 Building Regulations or later regulations that applied if the building was converted after 1 June 1992

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.

For buildings converted into flats (Section 257 HMO's) where a landlord does not have full control of the property the order of preference would be:

  • a right to manage company
  • a manager appointed under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987
  • a leaseholder or freeholder of whole building 
  • an appointed manager 


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.

Contact us

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