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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 October 2021

Additional licensing for HMOs came into effect on 30 August 2021. A broader range of properties now require a licence. Following a review of the impact of Covid19 on Westminster’s economy, on 1 October 2021 the Council withdrew the requirement for s.257 HMOs to be licensed under our Additional Licensing Scheme. Section 254 HMOs are still required to apply for 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.

Landlords who fail to licence risk enforcement from the Council.

Update:  Following a review of the impact of Covid19 on Westminster’s economy, on 1 October 2021 the Council withdrew the requirement for s.257 HMOs to be licensed under our Additional Licensing Scheme.  You may also be able to apply for a refund if you have paid an agent to complete your licencing application. For further details, please contact [email protected]

S.257 HMOs are buildings which have been converted into self-contained flats, which are less than two thirds owner-occupied, and do not comply with the appropriate modern building standards. 

If you are a s. 257 HMO landlord you will no longer need to apply for a license and any fees that have been paid for a s.257 licence before 1 October will be automatically refunded. 

Do I need a licence?

Please refer to our HMO Licensing Policy for full details on licensing requirements, documentation, exemptions, and enforcement. A summary of our scheme, fee’s and how to apply can be found here.

HMO licencing policy DOCX, 136.92 KB


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 3 or more people from 2 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. 

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.

Contact us

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