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.
Some HMOs require a licence and all HMOs require additional fire precautions.
We realise that HMO legislation can be confusing, if you have any questions please contact The Private Sector Housing Team on 01926 456359 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for an informal discussion.
New Policy links HMO licensing and planning permission
Following Government guidance, caselaw, specialist counsels legal advice, widespread consultation and a report to the Executive, a new policy comes into force today (1/4/21) to link planning permission and HMO licensing.
The new policy means that 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. In addition, 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 2021 in Leamington Spa, or for a period of 10 years for larger HMO in Warwick District (which house 7 or more occupants)**
The full policy and explanatory FAQ's will soon be available on the HMO pages.
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 safety and management requirements
- The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006
- The National Fire Safety Guidance LACORS fire safety standards (2MB, PDF) determines the required fire fighting detection equipment
- The Regulatory Reform (Fire safety) Order 2005 requires all 'responsible' persons, i.e. landlords and managers, to undertake a fire risk assessment of HMO's.
- Warwick District Council Space and amenities standards.
Do I need a HMO licence?
The licensing legislation changed on 1 October 2018 - properties which house five or more people, living in two or more households, must have a licence to operate legally (the requirement for the property to have 3 storeys has been removed).
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.
Failure to licence a property of this type is an offence and can result in prosecution with an unlimited fine or a civil penalty notice of up to £30,000.
In addition, your tenants can apply for a Rent Repayment Order for the period you have been operating without a licence.
Non licensable HMOs
HMOs which do not require a licence must adhere to the same standards, fire safety requirements and management as licensable HMOs.
Non licensable HMOs will be routinely inspected to ensure they are free from serious hazards and are well managed.
Failure to comply with HMO Management Regulations and statutory notices can result in enforcement action being taken against landlords and managers. Private Sector Housing are always willing to give advice, and prefer to work informally with landlords, however where landlords are uncooperative or unresponsive, enforcement action will be taken.
You can check our list of HMOs which do not require a licence on our public register at the bottom of the page.
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.
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.
- Licence Conditions (licences issued before 1/12/18)
- Licence Conditions (licences issued after 1/12/18)
Applying for a licence
- 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.
- Complete Application - All of the Application forms and information can be downloaded and printed or requested from the Private Sector Housing on 01926 456744.
- Pay Licence Fee - Licence fees are banded and based upon the number of occupants. See HMO Licence Fees and Charges - payments can be made online.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
- Licensed HMOs' can be found on the HMO licence register
- Non-licensable HMOs' can be found on the non-licensable HMO register
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.
New 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:-
- Failure to comply with Improvement Notice (Housing Act 2004 Section 30)
- Failure to license an HMO under Housing Act 2004 Part 2 (Housing Act 2004 Section 72)( mandatory licensing )
- Breach of HMO Licence conditions,
- Failure to license houses under Housing Act 2004 Part 3, (Housing Act 2004 Section 95)( selective licensing )
- Failure to comply with an Overcrowding Notice, (Housing Act 2004 Section 139(7))
- 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.
Private Sector Housing, Warwick District Council, Riverside House, Milverton Hill, Leamington Spa CV32 5QE
Telephone: (01926) 456 359