Licences for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Penalties for not having a HMO licence

Failing to have a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence is a criminal offence and subject to an unlimited fine. Listed below are details of possible breaches of HMOs:

  • it is a criminal offence to obstruct the local authority in carrying out their functions under Parts 1 to 4 and sections 239 and 240. Maximum penalty on summary conviction is currently £2,500
  • 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 under the licence. An unlimited fine may be imposed
  • overcrowding carries an unlimited penalty. Landlords who breach other licence conditions can be fined £5,000 per offence

Under s.324 of the Housing Act 1985 a 'dwelling' (home) is overcrowded when the number of persons sleeping in the dwelling is such as to contravene:

  1. the standard specified in section 325 (the room standard), or
  2. the standard specified in section 326 (the space standard)

Defences for not having a licence

There are three defences available to someone who does not have the requisite licence:

  • when there is a reasonable excuse for his failure (section 72(1))
  • a notification had been duly given in respect of the house under section 62(1), (Temporary Exemption)
  • an application for a licence had been duly made in respect of the house under section 63, and that notification or application was still effective

A landlord who is required to have a licence for a HMO but doesn't, loses the right to automatic possession of the rented property under an assured shorthold lease under HA1988, s21 (as amended s.75).

Report an unlicensed HMO

If you suspect someone is operating an unlicensed HMO you can report it online.