Houses in multiple occupancy - licensing

There are three forms of licensing that can be applied to housing as follows:

Mandatory licensing: which is a statutory requirement for certain types of HMO

Additional licensing: which is a discretionary scheme that local authorities can apply to other types of HMO.

Selective licensing: which is a discretionary licensing scheme that Local Authorities can apply to all privately rented properties within a designated area.

Mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation

In April 2006, the Government introduced compulsory licensing of larger, higher-risk Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) as part of the Housing Act 2004. A mandatory HMO will have the following:

  • three or more floors
  • five or more occupants
  • two or more households
  • shared amenities such as a bathroom, kitchen or toilet

If your property has all of these features, then it will need to be licensed.

Normally houses converted entirely into self-contained flats will not be subject to mandatory licensing, unless a facility such as bathroom or toilet is located outside of the flat.

Changes to HMO Licensing

The Government has recently brought in new legislation to extend mandatory HMO licensing to certain properties and to introduce new HMO licensing conditions, which will take effect from 1st October 2018.

The changes are as follows:

Extension of mandatory HMO licensing

As from 1st October 2018 mandatory licensing will no longer be limited to certain HMOs that are 3 or more storeys high, but will also include buildings which are only 1 or 2 storeys high. All the other requirements for being a mandatory HMO still apply, which are that it must be occupied by 5 or more persons form 2 or more households, sharing amenities.

Landlords of HMOs that fall under the new definition will need to apply for a licence by 1st October 2018 or risk prosecution. 

Any property which currently has a Selective Licence and will fall into the new mandatory licensing criteria will need to become a mandatory HMO on expiry of their current Selective Licence in 2022.

New Mandatory HMO licensing conditions

There are 2 new HMO licensing conditions which will come into effect from 1st October 2018. These are:

Minimum sleeping room sizes, which will be:

  • 6.51 sqm for one person over 10 year of age
  • 10.22 sqm for two persons over 10 years of age
  • 4.64 sqm for one child under 10 years of age

For Selective Licensing properties this condition will only apply once the property has become a mandatory HMO on expiry of their current Selective Licence in 2022.

Waste disposal: All new or renewed HMO  licences issued after 1st October 2018 will need to comply  with the Council’s storage and waste disposal scheme (further information is to follow on the Council’s scheme).

You can read about recent Government guidance on the changes.

We will also be issuing providing further information on applying for a licence and the conditions in the coming weeks.

Additional licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation

From 1st March 2014, the Council will be operating an Additional Licensing scheme for smaller HMOs of 2 or more storeys in height and occupied by three or more occupiers sharing facilities.

The Additional Licensing scheme will only operate in parts of the Castle, North Bay and Ramshill wards in Scarborough.

A map showing the area of designation of additional licensing can be viewed using the link below.

The Additional Licensing scheme comes into effect on 1st March 2014 and will last for a period of 5 years up until 28th February 2019.

Re-licensing a Houses in Multiple Occupation

A HMO license lasts for five years. If your property is still operating as a HMO at the end of the five year period, then you will need to apply to have your property re-licensed.

How to apply

You will need to provide the following with your application:

  • The licence fee payment. The application form will automatically calculate your licence fee. Details of the fees can be found via the weblink on this page.
  • A copy of your Gas Safety Certificate, should you have a gas supply to your property.
  • A copy of your Electrical Condition Report
  • A copy of your Annual Fire Detection Test Certificate
  • A copy of your Annual Fire Risk Assessment
  • A copy of the Floor Plan of the property

Should you not have internet access then please call into Customer First at the Town Hall (address at top of the page) and speak to one of our Customer First advisors, who will be able to assist you.  

Apply online >

Refusals of licence applications

We can refuse a licence application if we decide you are not a fit and proper person or if the property does not meet the licensing conditions.Also if there is no reasonable prospect of an alternative licence holder being appointed, or of the property being brought up to the required standards within an acceptable time period.

Appealing against a licence refusal

You may appeal if the council decides to:

  • refuse a licence
  • grant a licence with conditions
  • revoke a licence
  • vary a licence
  • refuse to vary a licence

You must appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal , normally within 28 days.

Temporary Exemption Notice

If you intend to stop the property operating as a HMO, or reduce the number of occupants, and you can give clear evidence of this, then you can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice.

Penalties for non-compliance

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 is permitted under the licence

A fine of up to £20,000 may be imposed. In addition, breaking any of the licence conditions can result in fines of up to £5000 per offence.