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HMO Licensing – What is it and what is the purpose of it?

Published on January 18, 2016 by Compare My Move in News, Property Investment

Recent stories have come out about landlords who are making huge amounts of money in rent from privately rented accommodation that has not met the legal requirements for living standards.

Whether you are a landlord or tenant, it is important to stay informed about your legal rights, so we have outlined what exactly a House in Multiple Occupation is, what the requirements are, and what the consequences are for non-compliance.

What is an HMO?

An HMO is a type of property that consists of any of the following:

  • A house split into bedsits
  • A house or flat share where each tenant has their own tenancy agreement
  • Students living in shared accommodation
  • At least three tenants need to live there, forming more than one household
  • Toilet, bathroom and kitchen facilities are shared with other tenants

What is the Purpose of an HMO license?

House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licenses exist to keep residents safe and make sure landlords follow the necessary requirements when renting out a property to multiple people.

Landlords must have a HMO license if the property they let is consistent with the criteria listed above. These guidelines ensure that landlords comply with the highest levels of fire safety, as well as providing tenants with a decent standard of living, such as working toilet and shower facilities.

As a result of these regulations, the landlord is responsible for the repair of any of the following:

  • The structure and interior of the house – walls, window frames and gutters
  • Water and gas pipes
  • Electrical wiring
  • Basins, sinks baths and toilets
  • Fixed radiators and water heaters

HMO landlords are also responsible for:

  • Clearly identifiable fire safety measures, with smoke detectors installed.
  • Annual gas safety checks every 5 years
  • The property does not exceed capacity
  • The property has adequate cooking and washing facilities
  • Tenants provided with enough rubbish bins/bags

What are the Consequences for Non-Compliance?

Non-compliance with HMO guidelines is an offence and can result in a fine of up to £20,000. Failing to comply with license conditions can result in a fine of £5000 per offence. Landlords may also have to pay up to a year’s worth of rent if found guilty.

Some of the Worst Offenders Guilty of Non-Compliance

Victor Robbins

HMO license - Non-CmplianceAfter failing to fix a leaking roof, Robbins was fined £3,500 and had to pay costs of £580.

Robbins had previously been ordered to pay £1,604 for work carried out on a property on his behalf. For this offence, he was fined £1,604 and ordered to pay costs of £790.

A warrant for his arrest was issued when he failed to pay the multiple fines.

Peter Hall

Mr Hall’s property, a block of nine flats in Blackpool, was visited three times in 2014 by housing officers. When he couldn’t provide evidence of an HMO license or a certificate of electrical safety each time, Hall was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,620 in costs.

Javeen Hossain

Mr Hossain endangered his tenant’s safety when he had ten tenants living in a property that was built to house just six, and ignored fire safety measures.

He was fined £11,000 for breaking the HMO licensing and safety requirements, and was ordered to pay costs of £1,004.

Balwinder Singh Dhadwal

Mr Dhadwal ignored the council’s orders to not let an HMO after the property was deemed unsafe. It didn’t have any smoke detectors, it had electrical problems as well as damp and mould issues.

As a result, Mr Dhadwal was fined a total of £6,390, and was ordered to pay £1,310 in costs.

Thomas Barry Davies

Mr Davies failed to license two properties he let out as an HMO. After pleading guilty, the Swansea landlord was fined a total of £1,250, with £1,056 in council costs.

If you want to get an HMO Licence

If you are thinking of setting up an HMO, you should do your research and find out what exactly you need to do and the responsibilities included.

HMO licences last five years, and you need one for each HMO you run. To get the licence, you need to contact your council. The cost will depend on the type of property and how many tenants will be living there.


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