Houses in multiple occupation

A property let to three or more unrelated people is a house in multiple occupation (HMO). HMOs 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 occuped 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 amenitites (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 2 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 5 or more persons
  • who form 2 or more households and
  • they share a bathroom or kitchen

A property must meet all 3 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 will come into effect on 1 October 2018.

Any HMO must have adequate fire precautions, amenity standards and be of an adequate size. Find out more about the standards expected for exisiting 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.

How to apply


In order to support people during this changeover, please find attached a Q&A to answer some of the frequently asked questions to-date.


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 succesful 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.

Fire safety

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