Houses in multiple occupation (HMO) form a significant part of the rented housing sector in Peterborough. A HMO can vary from a bed-sit where each letting usually has its own kitchen but a shared bathroom, to room-let type lettings where tenants rent a room but kitchen and bathroom facilities are shared.
With effect from 1 October 2018 the law regarding the mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) has changed. Any HMO that is occupied by five or more persons who form two or more households and who share basic amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet, will require a licence.
The definitions of HMOs are set out in Housing Act 2004, Section 254.
A household can be one person or several people. A group of people that are directly related (includes fostered and adopted children and other relatives), or living as a couple (including same sex couples) are classed as one household.
Please note: Landlord and/or Managers are expected to conduct appropriate checks to be confident that tenants are related and form a single household and that the property is not a HMO.
Three friends = three households
A couple and one friend = Two households
A couple living with parents = One household
A couple living with three friends - Four households
Two friends = Two households
Two families = Two households
Buildings that are not HMOs
Any residential property housing five or more persons is required to have a licence. Buildings managed by certain authorities or regulated by certain acts of parliament do not require a licence. Additionally, long-term leases may be exempted.
Further details can be found in the SI 370 Licensing prescribed exemptions.
It is an offence to operate or manage a HMO which should be licensed without a licence. Operating a HMO without a licence could result in a civil penalty of up to £30,000 being imposed or prosecution in the Magistrates Court and an unlimited fine.
This could also mean that the person convicted is considered not to be a fit and proper person to hold a licence, which means that they would be unable to hold a licence for a HMO anywhere in England, nor could they be a manager. Subsequent convictions could result in the responsible persons receiving a banning order preventing them from renting property across the country.
It is also possible for a rent repayment order to be made against the convicted person which would require the repayment of all rents received from people living in the property during the period it was being used as an unlicensed HMO, to a maximum of 12 months. These orders could apply to any housing benefit payments made by the local authority as well as any amount paid by the tenants.
If we refuse to issue a licence we must give the reasons for this. You have a right to appeal that decision to the First-Tier Tribunal within 28 days of the decision being made.
Your licence will contain a set of mandatory licence conditions which are required by the Housing Act 2004. It may also contain conditions imposed by us. These may be permanent conditions or may relate to works which are required to be done within a specified period of time. Before issuing a licence you will be issued with a draft licence. This gives you the opportunity to make representations about the conditions or terms of the licence. Once the full licence is issued you have a right of appeal regarding these imposed conditions to the First Tier Tribunal.
If you are unsure whether a property needs to be licensed, you want to know if a property has a licence, or if you want to report an unlicensed property please contact the Housing Enforcement team by email to email@example.com.