Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) Licence

New legislation on licenced houses in multiple occupation came in on 1 October 2018

What changed?

The government decided to extend the scope of mandatory licensing to bring smaller houses in multiple occupation within the scheme and remove the number of storeys.

Mandatory licensing now includes:

  • All HMOs with five or more occupiers;
  • living in two or more households;
  • regardless of the number of storeys. 

Effectively this means the storey requirement will be removed from the current definition.

Change in room sizes

Any room below 6.51sqm will not be able to be used for occupation, therefore there is a minimum room size of 6.51sqm for a single room, and 10.22sqm for a double room.

If you are a landlord and answer yes to the following questions, then you need to apply for an HMO Licence and it is an offence not to:

  1. Is the property occupied by five or more persons?

  2. Do the occupants form two or more households?

  3. Are basic amenities shared? For example a bathroom or kitchen.

If you did not apply for a license by 1 October 2018 you are committing an offence and you need to contact us to apply urgently.

How do I apply for a licence?

You can apply online using the form below, or download and complete a paper application form. You will need to pay a fee of £330.00.

Once your application has been received by us, we will examine your application and your supporting documents and provide a licence as soon as we can. We can inspect your property at any time, but have a three year period once we have provided your licence, if we consider that is appropriate in your particular case. Each application is judged on a case by case basis.

Licence Refusals

The Council can refuse your application if the property does not meet the conditions and the landlord or manager is not a fit and proper person.

If a landlord fails to bring a HMO up to the required standard, or fails to meet the fit and proper person criteria, the Council can issue an Interim Management Order (IMO), which allows it to step in and manage the property. The owner keeps their rights as an owner.  This order can last for a year until suitable permanent management arrangements can be made.

If the IMO expires and there has been no improvement, then the Council can issue a Final Management Order. This can last up to five years and can be renewed.

Temporary Exemptions

If a landlord or person in control of a property intends to stop operating an HMO or reduces the number of occupants and can give clear evidence, then he or she can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice. This lasts a maximum of 3 months and ensures that a property in the process of being reverted to an ordinary dwelling does not need to be licenced.  If the situation is not resolved, then a second Temporary Exemption Notice can be issued.

When this runs out, the property must be licenced, become subject to an Interim Management Order or cease to be an HMO.

Offences and Penalties

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

  • Fails to apply for a licence for a licensable property, or
  • Allows a property to be occupied by more people than are permitted by the licence.

On summary conviction offences of failing or allowing more people to occupy premises than permitted on a licence, can result in unlimited fines being awarded. Failure to comply with the conditions on a licence, on summary conviction, attract fines not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale. 

A tenant living in a property that should have been licenced, but was not, can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal to claim back any rent they have paid during the unlicensed period (up to a limit of 12 months). The Council can also reclaim any housing benefit that has been paid during the time the property was without a licence.

Check the Register

If you manage or operate a licensable property without a valid licence you are breaking the law.

Check the HMO Licenced Properties Public Register to see if a licence has been issued.

Further Information

If you require any further information, please view our frequently asked questions or contact the Environmental Services Team (Domestic) by completing our online enquiry form or use the contact details below.

Domestic Team, Environmental Health, East Cambridgeshire District Council, The Grange, Nutholt Lane, Ely, Cambs, CB7 4EE
Tel: 01353 665555

If you are unhappy with the Council's decision, you may appeal to a residential property tribunal. Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made.
You may also appeal to a residential property tribunal regarding conditions attached to a licence or any decision to vary or revoke a licence. Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made.

If a HMO licence is granted and other parties wish to appeal against it being granted they may do so to a residential property tribunal within 28 days of the decision being made.

If you are an applicant or a third party, you should always contact East Cambridgeshire District Council in the first instance if you have any queries, concerns or cause for complaint preferably in the form of a letter with proof of delivery.

Trade Associations