Mandatory HMO Licensing

Understanding mandatory HMO licensing

Understanding property licensing is not an easy task - we know that and we've been using the legislation since in came into force in 2006!

We realise most people don't have time to read all the detailed legislation - life is just too short. So we've decided to summarise the main details to make life a bit easier for you.

Mandatory HMO licensing is probably the best-known type of property licensing. After all, it has been in force for over nine years and applies throughout England and Wales.  So which properties does it cover?

Well, the first thing you need to decide is whether your property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). You could read the legislation itself (Sections 254 – 260 Housing Act 2004) although you may prefer the much simpler advice on the website.

Mandatory HMO licensing does not apply to all HMOs – it is restricted to certain larger properties under Part II of the Housing Act 2004. You will need a mandatory HMO licence if your property:

  • Is three or more storeys high;
  • Contains five or more people in two or more households; and
  • Contains shared facilities such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet. 

Ok, this gives you an indication of the type of property that needs a licence. But we think you need to delve a bit deeper to see if it applies to your property. So we would suggest you read on….

Number of storeys

When calculating the number of storeys, the Regulations say that you must include:

  • Any basement – if it is used as living accommodation; constructed, converted or adapted for use as living accommodation; if it is used in connection with and as an integral part of the HMO or if it provides the main entrance from the street);
  • Any loft or attic if it is used as living accommodation; constructed, converted or adapted for use as living accommodation; if it is used in connection with and as an integral part of the HMO; and
  • Any other storey used wholly or partly as living accommodation or in connection with and as an integral part of the HMO.

If the accommodation is situated above or below business premises, you must also include each storey comprising business premises. So a two-storey maisonette above a shop is a three-storey property for the purposes of HMO licensing. Not many people reaslise that.

Single household

So are the occupants all members of one household? Well, when it comes to the Housing Act 2004, nothing is straightforward!

The occupants are all considered to be part of the same household (Section 258 Housing Act 2004) if they are all members of the same family. That includes people living together as husband and wife or in a similar same sex relationship, plus others related to them as parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or cousin. A half-blood relationship is treated the same as full blood and a stepchild is treated the same as a child.

The Regulations also explain how live in employees, carers, migrant or seasonal workers should be counted for this purpose. There’s a lot of information to study if this scenario applies to you.
Statutory Exemptions

The Housing Act 2004 and associated regulations list certain exemptions from HMO licensing including:

  • Any property occupied by just two people who form two households;
  • Buildings managed by a local housing authority, registered social landlord, police or fire & rescue authority or a health service body;
  • Buildings already regulated under certain other statutory provisions (Schedule 1 to SI 2006 Number 373)
  • Certain student halls of residence;
  • Buildings occupied principally for the purposes of a religious community whose principle occupation is prayer, contemplation, education or the relief of suffering; and
  • Buildings owner occupied with no more than two lodgers. 

Hopefully this has given you a useful overview of which properties are subject to mandatory HMO licensing. Remember, this is not legal advice and you may want to refer to our disclaimer below.

If you are still unsure what it all means, you may want to contact your local council, seek independent legal advice, or contact us for further information.

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