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HMO licensing information


Houses in multiple occupation (HMO) form a significant part of the rented housing sector in Peterborough. A HMO can vary from a bedsit 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

Basic amenities

  • Kitchen
  • Toilet
  • Bathroom

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.

Licensing offences

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.

Public Register

Check our interactive map for licensed HMOs near you

Pre-application advice

Our Housing Standards Team offers a pre-application advice service to landlords of HMOs that require a licence. You are required to hold a licence for an HMO if it is occupied by five or more people.

We can offer free standard advice on:

  • Fire precautions and means of escape in case of fire
  • Adequate amenities (kitchen and bathroom facilities)
  • Adequate space available to tenants and prevention from overcrowding
  • Proper management practices

Chargeable discretionary advice service

If you want more in-depth help with an application, proposal or activity, we offer a discretionary enhanced advice service. This service is optional and chargeable. It will help you make sure that you are aware of all HMO regulations and requirements prior to submitting an application.

If you have been served with an improvement notice and / or are already engaged in a formal legal process with the Housing Standards Team, then this service is not available to you.

You can use the chargeable discretionary advice service to:

  • Request a site visit to the proposed HMO
  • Seek advice on your HMO licence application
  • Provide written advice and recommendations for your proposed HMO
  • Review and provide advice on your draft licence applications

How much you will have to pay depends on:

  • How complex your proposal is
  • The number of staff needed to provide the relevant advice


  • £190 plus VAT for the first two hours of this enhanced service
  • £95 an hour plus VAT thereafter per staff member – this includes travel time
  • Any other reasonable costs – for example, cost of advice from external consultants if needed

How to request advice services


When you email, please provide us with:

  • Your name and contact details
  • Who you’re acting on behalf of (if relevant)
  • The postcode or grid reference of the site and a location plan
  • A description of the proposal, including details of the proposal / activity and any type of consent you are seeking
  • The type of advice you want – for example, a face-to-face meeting or document review

We will respond within 15 working days to:

  • Confirm if the request is eligible
  • Confirm if the request is accepted
  • Agree the scope of the works
  • Provide a written estimate
  • Agree a timetable

If you (or someone else on your behalf) sends new information related to your request, the estimate may need to be revised. We will respond to agree:

  • Any changes to the scope of the work
  • The cost estimate

Licensing appeals

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.

Further information about the First-Tier Tribunal can be found on

Contact us

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 Standards team by email to