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.
We realise that HMO legislation can be confusing, if you have any questions please contact The Private Sector Housing Team on 01926 456358 or by email at email@example.com for an informal discussion.
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 outcomes.
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 an 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 is changing, currently properties of 3 or more storeys and house five or more people, in two or more households, must have a licence to operate legally. From 1st April 2018 if you let to 5 or more people in two or more households you will be required to apply for a licence before 1st October 2018 (the requirement for the property to have 3 storeys has been removed).
Private Sector Housing have written to the landlords of all existing HMO which will now require licensing from 1st April 2018. If you have not received a letter please contact us for further advice. Your licence application, fee and all supporting documents must be supplied to Private Sector Housing by 1st October 2018 in order to be duly made.
In properties which should already hold a licence prior to 1st April 2018, unconverted cellars/basements will be included as a storey if they house gas or electricity meters, and are available for storage. Attics and loft spaces will normally only be counted as a storey if they are accessed via a fixed staircase and used in connection with the HMO.
Failure to licence a property of this type is an offence and can result in prosecution with an unlimited fine or a fixed penalty notice of up to £30,000.
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 un-cooperative or unresponsive, enforcement action will be taken.
You can check our list of HMOs which do not require a license 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 transferrable. 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.
Licence conditions consultation 2018
Mandatory HMO licensing has been in place for almost 12 years. An extension of this licensing has been announced and now all HMO containing 5 or more persons, irrespective of how many storeys they contain, will need to be licensed from 1st October 2018.
The licence conditions have remained largely unchanged since HMO licensing was introduced in 2006. See the existing set of conditions above. With the extension of licensing, we are taking the opportunity to review these conditions. Warwick District Council has undertaken a consultation on new proposed licence conditions, this consultation concluded on 31/7/18 and we are currently reviewing the comments.
Please note this consultation was strictly concerning HMO licence conditions and licence term and did not include planning matters such as HMO concentrations.
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 456426.
- 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.
- Licence 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 before your licence expires. We do not send out renewal reminders.
HMO Register and Locations
Licensable HMOs' can be found on the register of HMO licence applications .
Non-licensable HMOs' can be found on the Register of non-licensable HMOs.
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.
If you think that a HMO needs licensing or does not appear on our registers, please contact us.
New Enforcement Powers - Fixed Penalty Notices
Fixed 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 now 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) 456 358