Houses in multiple occupation (HMO) licensing

You need a mandatory HMO licence if you’re renting out a property that has five or more people from two or more households, sharing amenities such as toilets, bathrooms or cooking facilities.

Houses, flats or converted flats on any number of storeys are licensable if five or more people from two or more households are sharing.

You may also require a licence if:

  • a building or part of a building consists of living accommodation and has been converted since the building was originally constructed
  • a building contains at least one unit of accommodation that is not a self- contained flat (there may also be some self-contained flats)
  • the accommodation is occupied by five or more persons who do not form a single household.

Definition of a household

A household is a separate individual, co-habiting couple or a family. A family includes parents, grandparents, children (including foster children, step children and children being cared for), grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins.

For example, five friends are five households, even if they share a tenancy, and a co-habiting couple and a friend would constitute two households.

If you are unsure whether your property is licensable, or require information on exemptions, please contact Private Rented Housing for advice

Private rented housing team

Required documents

  • Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
  • Gas Safety Certificate
  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • Fire Detection and Alarm System Inspection and Test Certificate (where appropriate)
  • Emergency Lighting Inspection and Test Certificate (where appropriate)

You may also be required to make a fit and proper person application when applying for an HMO licence.

If you are unable to download the HMO application form on the GOV.UK website, please contact our Private Rented Housing Team via email and we can send you a copy. 

After you've submitted

Once we have received your application, we follow a formal consultation procedure to allow the applicant and other relevant parties to comment on the proposed conditions before the licence is formalised.

You can view the current licence fees on our fees and charges page.


Landlords or agents who are members of a West of England Rental Standard approved organisation may be entitled to a discount. The list of approved organisations can be viewed on the West of England Rental Standard website.

Please contact us if you are unsure if you are entitled to the discount.

HMO register

As the Local Housing Authority, we are required to maintain a register of licensed HMO’s, Temporary Exemption Notices and Management Orders.

To view the registers of Temporary Exemption Notices and Management Orders, please email us.

Failure to licence

If you fail to licence a property that isn’t exempt from mandatory HMO licensing, we may take prosecution proceedings or impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000.

If you’re convicted, the Court may impose an unlimited fine. You could also have control of your unlicensed properties taken away from you and be ordered to repay up to 12 months rent to us or your tenants. You will also be restricted on how you terminate tenancies.

Reporting a property

If you think the property is overcrowded or should have a licence, please report the address so we can investigate.

You can do this using our online rogue landlords form. You can also go to our help for tenants page for more information.