As a landlord, if you own a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) - a rented property with shared facilities - you may need a licence to let. Read our guide to find out more.

From 6 April 2006 mandatory HMO licensing came into force across England. The Government hopes that this new legislation will raise the standard of accommodation for people living in HMOs.

Which HMOs need a licence?

Under the national mandatory licensing scheme an HMO must be licensed if it is a building consisting of three or more storeys and is occupied by five or more tenants in two or more households. Local Housing authorities have discretionary powers to widen the remit of licensing to also include other smaller HMOs if they think that enough of them in an area are badly managed. If you are unsure whether an HMO needs a licence check with your local housing authority.

What is a Household?

Couples married to each other or living together as husband and wife (or in an equivalent relationship in the case of persons of the same sex).

Relatives living together, including parents, grandparents, children (and step children), grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins.

Half-relatives will be treated as full relatives. A foster child living with his foster parent is treated as living in the same household as his foster parent. Therefore three friends sharing together are considered, three households. If a family rents a property that is a single household.

When do I have to apply for a licence?

Mandatory licensing came into force on 6 April 2006. HMO landlords are encouraged to apply immediately for a licence to avoid the penalties, which were introduced on 6 July 2006; Failure to register for a licence. Failure to register for a licence is a criminal offence and can result in a fine of up to £20,000. For more information on HMOs contact your local housing authority and visit