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The following are some of the most common questions asked about HMOs.

Why does the Government want HMOs to be licensed?

Larger HMOs, such as bedsits and shared houses, often have poorer physical and management standards than other privately rented properties. The people who live in HMOs are often amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society; and a HMO is often the only housing option for many people. The Government recognises therefore that it is vital that HMOs are properly regulated.

Licensing is intended to make sure that:

  • Landlords of HMOs are fit and proper people, or employ managers who are.
  • Each HMO is suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the licence.
  • The standard of management of the HMO is adequate. Managers are required to comply with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006
  • High risk HMOs can be identified and targeted for improvement.
    Where landlords refuse to meet these criteria the Council can intervene and manage the property so that:
  • Vulnerable tenants can be protected
  • HMOs are not overcrowded
  • Councils can identify and support landlords, especially with regeneration and tackling antisocial behaviour.

Can the Council refuse to licence my property?

Yes, if the property does not meet the conditions required or the landlord or manager is not a 'fit and proper' person.

What will happen if the Council refuses to licence my property?

If a landlord fails to bring an HMO up to standard, or fails to meet the 'fit and proper person' criteria, the Council can step in. They can request an Interim Management Order (IMO), which allows them to manage the property. The owner will still keep owner's rights. If the IMO expires (maximum 1 year) and there has been no improvement by the landlord, the Council can request a Final Management Order. This can last for up to five years and can be renewed.

Can I appeal?

You can appeal against a licensing decision to the First-tier Tribunal, normally within 28 days of any decision.

Can I get a temporary exemption from licensing a HMO?

If a landlord or person in control of a property intends to stop operating it as a HMO or reduce the numbers of occupants and can give clear evidence of this, then he or she can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice. This lasts for a maximum of three months and ensures that a property in the process of being converted from an HMO does not need to be licensed. If the situation is not resolved, then a second Temporary Exemption Notice can be issued. When this runs out the property must be licensed, become subject to an Interim Management Order or cease to be an HMO.

What are the penalties?

It is a criminal offence if the landlord or person in control of the property:

  • fails to apply for a licence for a licensable property; or
  • fails to comply with the licence conditions.

On conviction you could get an unlimited fine. The First-tier Tribunal can also require rent to be repaid for the unlicensed period (up to a maximum of 12 months) where no licence has been obtained.