House in Multiple Occupation Licence
You must apply for a licence if the House in Multiple Occupation you own or manage is occupied by five or more people who form two or more households.
In order to grant a licence the authority must be satisfied that;
- The house is reasonably suitable for occupation by the number of persons or households permitted under the licence;
- The licence holder is a fit and proper person, who is the most appropriate person to be granted the licence;
- The proposed manager of the HMO, if not the licence holder, is also a fit and proper person;
- The proposed management arrangements are satisfactory
When will I need to apply?
The regulations requiring HMOs of three or more storeys to be licensed came into force on 6 April 2006. From 1 October 2018, any HMO which is occupied by five or more people must be licensed.
How do I apply?
You can apply online at the Chiltern and South Bucks HMO licensing website.
What terms and conditions are applied to HMO licences?
Licences will be valid for up to five years and will specify the maximum number of occupiers or households. The number of occupants permitted by the licence will depend on the number and size of rooms and the kitchen and bathroom facilities.
All licences will be issued with the following mandatory conditions:
to provide copies of gas safety certificates annually
to keep electrical appliances and furniture safe
to install smoke alarms and keep them in working order
to install carbon monoxide detectors (where there is a solid fuel burning appliance) and keep them in working order
to provide tenants with a written tenancy agreement
to ensure that the statutory minimum bedroom sizes are not breached
to comply with the Council's waste collection policy
Local authorities have powers to attach additional conditions as considered appropriate in relation to the management, use, occupation or condition and contents of the HMO.
How much will an application cost?
The basic licence fee for a five bedroomed property is £800. There is an additional charge of £25 for each extra room and £200 for late applications. Deductions apply for members of landlord associations. The fee is payable in two instalments: £500 on submission of your application, then the remaining balance when your application has been processed. A licence will normally last for five years.
The licence will not be issued until full payment has been received.
The licensing fee is not refundable if the property ceases to become a licensable HMO at any point after it has been issued.
Who can be a licence holder?
The licence holder must be the appropriate person to hold the licence, e.g. the owner or managing agent of the property, and must be a fit and proper person.
Who is a fit and proper person?
In determining whether a person is fit and proper to hold a licence for or be a manager of a HMO the Council must consider whether the person or a relevant associate has been involved in;
- Offences of fraud;
- Offences of dishonesty;
- Offences of violence;
- Drug Offences;
- Unlawful discrimination in business;
- Contravention of housing law;
- Breach of applicable codes of housing practice.
If the Council does not grant me a licence, can I appeal this decision?
Landlords can make appeals concerning enforcement action and licensing decisions taken by the Council to the First Tier Tribunal.
Further information on appeals visit the Justice website
What are the penalties if I continue to run a HMO that requires a licence, without obtaining a licence?
It is a criminal offence to operate a HMO which requires a licence without obtaining a licence, for which a landlord can be prosecuted. On conviction, an unlimited fine can be imposed by the courts. As an alternative to a prosecution, the Council can impose a fine of up to £30,000.
The local authority may also apply to the First-tier Tribunal for a Rent Repayment Order, requiring the landlord to repay up to 12 months rent to the Council (if paid in housing benefits) or to the tenants.
The Tribunal can issue a Banning Order which prevents a person from letting a house or engaging in letting agency or property management work for at least 12 months.
Where there is no prospect of an HMO being licensed (or a licence has been revoked) the Tribunal can permit the council to take over the management of an HMO and become responsible for running the property and collecting rent for up to a year. In some cases this can be extended to five years with the council also having the power to grant tenancies.
Where can I find out more information about licensing?
In the first instance please contact the Council's Housing Standards Team on 01494 732013.
You can also access information on Licensing and the Housing Act 2004 from the gov.uk - HMO Licencing web pages.