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Houses in multiple occupancy

What is a House of Multiple Occupation?

The Housing Act 2004 (Part II) states a House is in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) if it meets one of the following tests, and will therefore require a licence:

  • The standard test: any building in which two or more families or individuals share basic amenities. Amenities are bathroom, toilet or kitchen facilities
  • The self-contained flat test: any flat in which two or more families or individuals share basic amenities. Amenities are bathrooms, toilets or kitchen facilities
  • The converted building test: any converted building comprising one or more units of accommodation that are not self contained
  • Certain converted blocks of flats

How long is a licence valid?

The licence will last a maximum of five years. A new application will be required if the property is sold and/or the licence holder changes within the five years.

Apply for a House in Multiple Occupation Licence

Apply by post or in person for a House in Multiple Occupation Licence

Apply on-line for a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence 
Tell us on-line about a change to your existing House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence

Licence fee

The licence fee covers the administration and processing costs and is required at the time of application.  For details of the current fees please contact the Housing Advice and Standards Team on 01732 227000 or e-mail:housing@sevenoaks.gov.uk.

Can the Council refuse to license a property?

Yes we can. If the property does not meet the conditions required or the landlord or manager is not a 'fit and proper' person. View our guide for Houses in Multiple Occupation.

What will happen if the standards of the property deteriorate?

If a landlord fails to bring a House in Multiple Occupation up to standard, or fails to meet the 'fit and proper person' criteria, we can intervene.

We can request an Interim Management Order (IMO) which allows us to manage the property. The owner will still keep owner's rights. If the Order expires (maximum one year) and there has been no improvements by the landlord, we can request a Final Management Order.

This can last for up to five years and can be renewed by us. View our guide to Houses in Multiple Occupation amenity standards.

Can landlords appeal the decision?

Yes, to the Residential Property Tribunal within 28 days of a decision.

Appeals should be made to:

Southern England Residential Property Tribunal Service
First Floor
1 Market Avenue
PO19 1JU

Call 01243 779394 or 0845 1002627, fax 01243 7793 or visit www.rpts.gov.uk.

Temporary exemption from licensing

If a landlord or manager intends to stop operating a House in Multiple Occupation or reduce the number of occupants, and can give clear evidence of this, then they can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice.

The Temporary Exemption Notice lasts for a maximum of three months and ensures that a property in the process of being converted from a House in Multiple Occupation does not need to be licensed. If the situation is not resolved, a second Temporary Exemption Notice can be issued.

When the second Temporary Exemption Notice expires, the property must be correctly licensed, become subject to an Interim Management Order or cease to be a House in Multiple Occupation.

What are the penalties?

It is an offence if the landlord or manager fails to apply for a licence for a licensable property or allows a property to be occupied by more people than permitted under the conditions of the licence.

A fine up to £20,000 may be imposed. In addition, breaking any of the licence conditions can result in fines up to £5,000.

Can tenants claim back their rent if their landlord does not comply with the licence?

A tenant living in a House in Multiple Occupation that should have been correctly licensed but discovers it was not, can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal to claim back any rent paid during the unlicensed period. This may be up to a limit of 12 months.

We can also reclaim any housing benefit that has been paid during the time.

Further information

See our Houses in Multiple Occupation frequently asked questions sheet.

Contact the Housing Advice and Standards Team on 01732 227000 or e-mail housing@sevenoaks.gov.uk.