What is a house in multiple occupation?

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is created where 3 or more people share accommodation and facilities; and form 2 or more separate households. A household can be a family, a couple or a single person. When making an occupancy determination, officers will be counting all persons who reside in the property including those not named on tenancy agreements such as partners of tenants, tenants friends and children.

Certain buildings which contain both self-contained and non-self-contained flats may also fall into the 'HMO' definition. These are so-called 'converted buildings' under section 254(4) Housing Act 2004. An example of a non-self-contained flat would be where not all of the facilities (kitchen,bathroom or wc) are located behind the front entance door of the flat.

All Houses in Multiple Occupation require a licence

From January 18th 2024 all Houses in Multiple Occupation in Warwick District will be licensable. They will fall into one of 2 licensing schemes:

  • Mandatory Licensing - The national requirement for all HMO with 5 or more occupants which has been in place since 2006.                      
  • Additional Licensing -  A local designation requiring previously non-licensable HMO to become licensed. This will typically be 3 or 4 bed HMO and purpose built HMO in blocks.

The licensing process and applications forms are the same, however the payment process has changed and you will need to understand under which scheme you are required to obtain a licence. Further information on the new additional licensing scheme and general HMO requirements can be found further down the page.

Make a Mandatory Licensing Scheme Application Payment

Make an Additional Licensing Scheme Application Payment

Failure to licence a HMO is an offence and can result in prosecution with an unlimited fine or a civil penalty notice of up to £30,000. In addition, tenants can apply for a Rent Repayment Order for the period they have been operating without a licence.

Additional Licensing Scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

An Additional Licensing Scheme will come into force on 18 January 2024.

Following a public consultation earlier in the year, Cabinet gave their approval for the introduction of an Additional Licensing Scheme on 9 August 2023 and Council approved the fees and charges associated with the scheme on 26 September 2023.

The Council has made a designation under Section 56 Housing Act 2004 which is required to enable the scheme to come into effect.

Private Sector Housing wrote to landlords of known HMOs which are likely to require licensing. A copy of the letter to assist landlords is availlable. These are the 3 and 4 person HMOs as well as purpose-built flats in multiple occupation with 3 or more persons including those within Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA). Landlords are encouraged to prepare in advance and ensure all necessary safety certification is in order ready for submission.

Landlords should check if all of their HMOs are listed on the ‘non-licensable’ HMO register. If any HMOs are not listed, they are advised to contact Private Sector Housing to provide details in order that letters and application packs can be sent to them.

See the Additional HMO licence fees and charges page to make your licence application payment. A new payment system is being introduced so that payments are due in 2 instalments, Stage 1 and Stage 2. These are explained in the fees page and letter to accompany application packs.

The ‘Early Bird’ discounted fee for Additional Licensing will be available for 8 weeks from the scheme launch. Please note that to qualify, applications must be ‘duly made’ by 14 March (all necessary documentation provided). The fees page explains what is required to constitute a ‘duly made’ application.

Private Sector Housing have written to all those who took part in the public consultation to advise them of the scheme coming into effect as well as letting agents and others with an interest.

Please see Frequently Asked Questions which you may find helpful.

HMO licensing is linked to planning permission

Following Government guidance, caselaw, specialist counsels legal advice, widespread consultation and a report to the Executive, a new policy came into force on 1st April 2021 to link planning permission and HMO licensing.

Private Sector Housing will not be able to process new or renewal HMO licence applications where planning permission is required but has not been obtained. Landlords will face enforcement action where they do not make a valid application for planning permission within set timescales, when a new or renewal HMO licence is required.

**References to planning permission in the new policy include a certificate of lawful development. This would be granted by the Planning Enforcement Team if a property had been operating continuously as an HMO from before 1 April 2012 in Leamington Spa, or for a period of 10 years for larger HMO in Warwick District (which house 7 or more occupants)**

Creating HMOs - planning permission

  • Landlords wishing to create any size of HMO in Leamington Spa must obtain planning permission from the planning department before letting the property. This is because of Article 4 planning rules in this area.
  • Landlords wishing to create or increase numbers to a HMO for 7 or more occupants anywhere in the district must apply for planning permission before letting the property.

Where planning permission has not been granted these properties may be subject to planning enforcement action. It is advised that prior to making any planning applications, that pre-application advice is sought from the Planning Team. The Private Sector Housing Team cannot advise on planning application matters.

Additional compliance requirements

Non licensable HMOs

You can check our list of HMOs which do not currently require a licence on our public register at the bottom of the page. Most HMOs which are currently ‘non-licensable’ will require to be licensed from 18 January 2024. We are expecting new licence applications from a large number of properties. It will take some time to process them before transferring the addresses to the licence register.

Please note: The district council collects this data from a number of sources for the purposes of monitoring unlicensed HMOs within the district. The council takes no responsibility for the use of the data for any other purpose and provides no warranty as to the accuracy of the data, nor does it provide any warranty that the data is current. The data is under constant review and updates will be published quarterly.

Changes to the licence holder or manager

Please note that licences are not transferable. If a property is sold, or if the licence holder dies or wishes for another person to take over an existing licence, a new application must be made. The appropriate licence fee must be paid with the application.

Where the licence holder remains the same but there is a proposed change of manager, you must notify the Private Sector Housing Team using Form 8. There is no charge for this.

Licence conditions

There are a standard set of conditions which licence holders must meet. In addition to this, a list of works may also be attached to the licence to bring individual properties to the required standard. Please note that following a public consultation the Council have adopted an updated set of conditions for draft licences issued after 1st December 2018.

Applying for a licence

  1. Property must be free from hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), suitable for the number of occupants, have adequate facilities, space and fire precautions. Management arrangements must be satisfactory and the licence holder and/or manager must be a 'fit and proper' person, as defined in section 66 of the Housing Act 2004.
  2. Complete Application - All of the Application forms and information can be downloaded and printed or requested from the Private Sector Housing on 01926 456744. 
  3. Pay Stage 1 Licence Fee - Licence fees are banded and based upon the number of occupants. See HMO Licence Fees and Charges - payments must be made online as can no longer accept cheques.
  4. Property Inspection - an inspection will be made to verify the information on the application forms and check the property is legally compliant. Unannounced inspections may be made during the life of the licence.
  5. Licences will then be granted or refused. Licences may be granted with conditions attached such as completion of remedial work to bring the property to an acceptable standard. A license will normally last for up to 5 years.
  6. Pay Stage 2 Fee if the licence application has been granted. You are required to pay the stage 2 fee before your draft licence is sent to you.

It is your responsibility as a landlord to renew your licence when it expires, you must obtain a renewal pack and submit the new application before your existing licence expires. All forms can be downloaded from the Warwick District Council website.

Shorter licences

Warwick District Council has introduced flexibility in the HMO licensing cycles to enable HMO licences to be granted for a shorter period at a higher cost for landlords causing concern in the following circumstances:

  • Improvement Notice served ( disrepair  and hazards)
  • Prohibition Order served ( to restrict occupancy )
  • Civil Penalty ( various housing offences )
  • Noise Abatement Notice served
  • Community Protection Notice served ( refuse issues )
  • Breach of HMO licence conditions

Delegated authority lies with the Head of Housing Services to make decisions about imposing a shorter 2 year HMO licensing period in individual cases. The council will charge the same HMO licence fee for a two year period as it currently does for five years. This means that the cost per year of a two year licence is 150% higher than the cost per year of a five year licence.

The landlord has the right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal about a decision to grant them a two year HMO licence. 

HMO register and locations

Alternatively both licensed and non-licensable properties may be found plotted on our map of the district by selecting the tab at the top entitled 'Go to an area', making your selection and then selecting the tab entitled 'use Map to find', then the option for Houses in Multiple Occupation.

Please note that from January 2019 the licence application register has been generated from a new source, some fields are not yet populated and will be filled in over time as the primary source is updated. This is an ongoing piece of work. In addition, landlords of non-licensable properties are not legally required to notify us of changes in the property's status, hence the list of non-licensable HMO may not be fully accurate.

We are limited as to the information we can provide on individual properties if the enquiry is from a person without a legal interest in the property. If you think that a HMO needs licensing or does not appear on our registers, please contact us.

Enforcement powers - civil penalty notices

Civil Penalty Notices under Housing and Planning Act 2016 came into force in April 2017. They are an alternative to prosecution for various private sector housing offences. The Council has  formally adopted a Civil Penalties Policy which incorporates a schedule of penalties for various offences. The maximum penalty that can be levied is £30,000. The offences that are covered are as follows:-

  1. Failure to comply with Improvement Notice (Housing Act 2004 Section 30)
  2. Failure to license an HMO under Housing Act 2004 Part 2 (Housing Act 2004 Section 72)( mandatory licensing )
  3. Breach of HMO Licence conditions,
  4. Failure to license houses under Housing Act 2004 Part 3, (Housing Act 2004 Section 95)( selective licensing )
  5. Failure to comply with an Overcrowding Notice, (Housing Act 2004 Section 139(7))
  6. Breach of Management Regulations in respect of HMOs. (Housing Act 2004 Section 234)

The Council will consider the most appropriate course of action in accordance with its Enforcement Policy

The process will involve the service of a ‘notice of intent’ to impose a financial penalty. A person served with a notice may make representations within 28 days. A decision will then be made in regard to whether to impose a penalty and the amount. If it decides to impose a penalty, the Council must issue a final notice requiring payment within 28 days. There is a right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal.

Contact us

Private Sector Housing, Warwick District Council, Town Hall, Parade, Leamington Spa CV32 4AT

privatesectorhousing@warwickdc.gov.uk for general queries

hmo@warwickdc.gov.uk for mandatory licensing queries (5+ occupiers) 

addhmo.admin@warwickdc.gov.uk for additional licensing queries (3 - 4 Occupiers and flats in purpose built blocks)

Telephone: (01926) 456 359