PUBLISHED: 28/12/21

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 ‘household’ (for example a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’.

If you want to rent out your property as a house in multiple occupation in England or Wales you must contact your council to check if you need a licence.

You must have a licence if you’re renting out a large HMO in England or Wales. Your property is defined as a large HMO if all of the following apply:

– it is rented to 5 or more people who form more than 1 household some or all tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities
– at least 1 tenant pays rent (or their employer pays it for them)

Please note that even if your property is smaller and rented to fewer people, you may still need a licence depending on the area. You should check this information with your local authority.


A licence is valid for a maximum of 5 years and therefore you must renew it before it rans out. A separate licence is required for each HMO that you ran.


You must make sure:

– the house is suitable for the number of occupants (this depends on its size and facilities)
– the manager of the house – you or an agent – is considered to be ‘fit and proper’, for example they have no criminal record or breach of landlord laws or code of practice

You must also:

– send the council an updated gas safety certificate every year
– install and maintain smoke alarms
– provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances when requested

The council may add other conditions to your licence, for example improving the standard of your facilities. They will let you know when you apply.

Exemptions to Mandatory Licensing

Mandatory licensing does not apply to HMOs that meet the converted blocks of flats test, otherwise known as s257 HMOs. A local authority has the discretion to designate s257 HMOs as licensable under additional licensing schemes. However, individual flats within a s257 HMO could still require a mandatory licence if they meet the mandatory test.

To find out more about HMO properties and licensing, please get in touch to speak to one of our surveyor.