Houses in multiple occupation

A property let to three or more unrelated people is a house in multiple occupation (HMO). HMO's can include -

  • cohesive groups (formerly known as shared houses)
  • non-cohesive groups (formerly known as bedsits)
  • certain self-contained flats

Cohesive - Houses occupied on a shared basis. These would normally be occupied by members of a defined social group e.g. students or a group of young single adults. The occupiers each enjoy exclusive use of a bedroom but would share other facilities including a communal living space.

Non-cohesive - Houses occupied as individual rooms where there is some exclusive occupation (usually bedroom/living room) and some sharing of amenities (bathroom and/or toilet and/or kitchen). Each occupant lives otherwise independently of all others.

If you use a building as a HMO, you may need planning permission.

Find out about applying for planning permission

Certain works also need building regulations approval.

Find out more information on building control

Mandatory licensing

The definition of an HMO subject to licensing are contained within Part two of the Housing Act 2004 and The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions)(England) Order 2018.

A property is classed as an HMO subject to licensing if it has -

  • is occupied by five or more persons
  • who form two or more households and
  • they share a bathroom or kitchen

A property must meet all three criteria in order to require a license. Should you purchase a property that has an existing Mandatory licence, the license is not transferable. You must therefore submit an application in an individual's name or company name.

Changes to the definition of a HMO requiring a license came into effect on 1 October 2018.

Please find below a Q&A document to answer some of the frequently asked questions.

Any HMO must have adequate fire precautions, amenity standards and be of an adequate size. Find out more about the standards expected for existing HMOs subject to licensing. The room sizes in relation to bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens are being reviewed and they will be available on the website in the near future.

Further information on the definition of Houses in Multiple Occupation, and the article 4 areas can be found in the following advice leaflet.

How to apply

Access our online form below to apply for a new HMO License -

New applications - This applies if

  • you have recently converted a property to an HMO containing five or more persons forming two or more households and are sharing amenities
  • the number of occupants within an existing HMO has increased to five or more persons forming two or more households and are sharing amenities
  • the previous licence has expired
  • you have recently purchased a property which was previously licensed (licences cannot be transferred

Apply to renew or amend your  HMO Licence

Access our online form below to apply to renew or amend an HMO License -

Renewal applications - This applies if - 

  • you are the holder of an existing licence which is due to expire in the next 30 days

Variations - This applies if - 

  • there is an increase or decrease in the number of occupants or households
  • change to the layout of the property
  • amend of remove a specific condition

A non-refundable payment of £180 must be made using the online payment system. This covers the administration and processing of the application form and a "fit and proper person" check in relation to the individual property. Upon completion of these checks, the successful applicant will be notified. At a later date an invoice setting out the outstanding balance of the licensing fee will be sent.

If you do not hold a valid licence, you risk having to pay back any rent collected for the property and a fine of up to £20,000.

The Council's Cabinet approved the Fees & Charges Policy 2018-19 which included the proposed fees and charges in relation to licensing at that time.

Copy of the report 

A recent High Court decision (Gaskin v. LB Richmond) will have an impact on all local authorities in relation to the setting of license fees, and the Council is therefore reviewing its fees that were agreed in April 2018. Confirmation of any revision of the existing fees will be made available in the near future.

Paying your HMO Licence Fee

If you have been notified that your application for an HMO licence has been accepted, you can pay the balance of your licence fee online. You will have been informed of the amount outstanding. If you are unsure of the exact amount please contact us on

The HMO property address is the reference.

Online Payment

Make a secure payment anytime with myPayments. You will need -

  • your debit card, or,
  • your PayPal account login details
  • an email address to be sent a receipt (optional)

You can only make online payments using a compatible browser.

Further information on compatible browsers

Debit and credit cards

We accept the following debit and credit cards -

  • Visa
  • Visa Debit
  • Visa Electron
  • Mastercard
  • Maestro

We do not accept American Express

Fire safety

The LACORS fire safety guidance details the fire precautions required in HMOs and single occupancy dwellings.