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.

Mandatory HMO licensing came into force across England and Wales in 2006. The intention is to 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.

Apply for a HMO licence?

In England and Wales you must apply to your local council for a HMO licence which is valid for a maximum of 5 years. To apply for a licence online visit