Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) Licence

If you rent out a property for a house in multiple occupancy (HMO), you may require a licence from East Cambridgeshire District Council and a fee may be charged.  If you rent out more than one property, you will require a licence for each property.

A licensable HMO is one where the property:

  • comprises 3 or more storeys and;
  • has 5 or more unrelated occupiers (consisting of 2 or more households) and;
  • who share an amenity such as a kitchen, toilet, bathroom or lounge.

If the property consists of a mixture of self-contained flats and flats where the tenant has to go out of their flat usually through a communal area to make use of an amenity as described above (whether for their exclusive use or not), then this may require a HMO licence.  In addition, properties let above commercial premises may require a HMO licence.

Applications must be made to the local authority in which the house is situated and you will be required to prove that you are a fit and proper person to hold the licence.

Licences will be granted if:

  • the house is or can be made suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the licence;
  • the applicant is deemed to be a fit and proper person and the most appropriate person to hold the licence;
  • the proposed manager has control of the house, and is a fit and proper person to be the manager;
  • the management arrangements are satisfactory.

Licences can be granted for up to five years.  The Council may grant licences for shorter periods in certain circumstances, such as if works are required at the property.

Licence Conditions

There will be a number of conditions attached to licences, some of which are set out in the Act and some of which will be prescribed by the Council in individual cases.  Those conditions that will apply to all licences are:

  • Licence holders will be required to produce to the Council annually for inspection, an in-date gas safety certificate (gas safety inspections are required yearly)
  • Licence holders will be required to keep electrical appliances and furniture made available by them in a safe condition
  • Licence holders will be required to ensure that smoke alarms are insatlled in the HMO and are kept in proper working order and make declarations to this effect to the Councilo.
  • Licence holders will be required to supply the occupiers of the HMO a written statement of terms on which they occupy the house and make declarations to this effect to the Council.

Property Inspections

The Council can issue a licence without inspecting the property.  The Council is proposing to visit the property to ensure that the licencing conditions are being met.

However, we are also required to satisfy ourselves as soon as is reasonably practicable after an application for a licence is made that the HMO is free from any serious hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

In effect, this means that the Council will be carrying out two types of inspection at some point during the lifetime of the licence.  To ensure minimum disruption to the landlord, every effort will be made to combine the two inspections.

Application Forms

Houses in Multiple Occupancy Licence - Download Application Form

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 issues 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 three 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.

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

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 will be breaking the law.

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

Guidance Notes

It is in the public interest that East Cambridgeshire District Council must process your application before it can be authorised. If you have not received a response to your application within a reasonable period, please contact us. You can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service , 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.

Please visit the Residential Property Tribunal website for more information.

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

National Federation of Property Professionals