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Houses in multiple occupation - HMO

What is a House in Multiple Occupation - HMO?

An HMO is typically any property eg a house, bungalow, maisonette or flat, that is rented out to three or more people who form two or more households and share facilities like the kitchen or bathroom. 

A 'household' could be a single person, or members of the same family living together. This includes people who are married or living together as married (including those in a same-sex relationship). It also includes close relatives and foster children living with foster parents.

What are the standards that need to be met?

All HMOs are covered by regulations relating to the management of HMOs. They are expected to meet minimum standards with regard to fire protection, numbers of kitchens and bathrooms, room sizes and general repair and safety. Even if a licence is not required, these standards need to be met. For more information on this, please look at our Icon for pdf Landlords guide to standards for HMOs [1.82MB].

When does an HMO need a licence?

An HMO needs a licence if

  • it has five or more people
  • the occupants form two or more households

On 1 October 2018, changes were made to the law which removed the storey requirement. Any properties that meet the criteria above, regardless of the number of storeys now require a licence.

Spelthorne operates the mandatory licensing scheme under Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004, but does not currently operate any additional or selective licensing schemes. Therefore, HMOs in Spelthorne with three or four occupants do not need to be licensed.

How do I apply?

You can download an Icon for pdf application form [491.04KB] and Icon for pdf Guidance notes for completing the HMO application form [659.68KB]. Once completed email to attaching all the required documentation (as listed below). To make payment you can either send a cheque with the appropriate fee or we will arrange for someone to call you to take payment.

You can also apply and pay online via the GOV.UK website

To make a valid application you will need to submit the completed application form with the following :

  • a current gas safety certificate (if there is gas)
  • a current  electrical installation condition report
  • a test certificate for the automatic fire detection system (if there is one)
  • a current test certificate for the emergency escape lighting system (if there is one)
  • an energy performance certificate (EPC)
  • a written fire risk assessment* carried out by a competent person (If not submitted with the application, it will be required within 6 months of the licence being issued)
  • a floor plan, showing the room sizes, the fire protection measures and the kitchen, toilet and bathroom facilities (see application notes for an example)
  • a blank copy of a tenancy agreement for the property that is given to tenants

Without all of the above (with the exception of a written fire risk assessment), the application is incomplete and will not be considered. Please make sure you have the correct documents before you make an application, as you may be charged for an incomplete application.

*There are a small number of fire risk assessor registration schemes in operation for persons and companies that carry out fire risk assessments, which can provide details of competent risk assessors:

How much does it cost?

Number of occupants2020/21 charge
Up to 6 occupants (application fee £504) (maintenance fee £188)£705.50
7 to 9 occupants (application fee £555) (maintenance fee £301)£873
10 to 14 occupants (application fee £605) (maintenance fee £335)£958.50
15 or more occupants (application fee £655) (maintenance fee £398)£1,074
Penalty for late or incomplete applications£133.50
Discount for members of an approved landlords' association£34

The full fee can be paid at the time of application, or alternatively the first part of the fee (application), can be paid for the processing of the HMO application.

The remainder of the fee (maintenance) will be payable once the licence has been approved.

If the full fee is paid and the HMO licence is not granted, a refund will be given for the 'maintenance' part of the fee.

The licence lasts for five years.

What happens next?

After your completed application has been submitted, we will acknowledge its receipt. We may then consult with the fire brigade, your mortgage or finance company (if you have one) and anyone else who has an interest in the property.

If we consider the property is suitable, and that the person who will be holding the licence is 'fit and proper' and competent to manage the property, we will issue a draft licence to those who have an interest in the property. There will be conditions attached which will have to be met. Please read these carefully as once the licence is issued, these conditions will be legally binding. If all parties find the draft acceptable, the licence will be issued.  

Are there any penalties?

It is an offence if the landlord or person in control of the property:

  • operates a licensable HMO without a licence
  • allows a property to be occupied by more people than is specified on the licence
  • fails to comply with any of the conditions of the licence

Any of the above offences may result in a prosecution with unlimited fines or the Council revoking the licence and taking over the management of the property.

The Council or the tenants may also apply to have any rent paid back under Rent Repayment Order for up to the previous twelve months if it is an unlicensed HMO.

Please note that the Government has brought in a law which allows Local Authorities to impose civil penalties of up to £30,000 per offence for any of the above contraventions. These  penalties can also apply to offences under the regulations relating to the management of HMOs.

Tacit consent

The Council will process your application as soon as possible, and in the interim you can continue to operate your property as an HMO. This does not mean that tacit consent has been granted. To check the progress of your application please contact us on the contact details given.

Public register

Spelthorne Borough Council has a legal duty to hold a public register of all the HMOs it has licensed. Some basic details of the register are detailed here Icon for excel public register [62.5KB]. You can view the full register which is held at the Council Offices by contacting  the Residential Team in Environmental Health. 

Report it

Do you know of an HMO without a licence? You can report it by completing the report an HMO form or contacting the Residential Team in Environmental Health. Please note that you do not have to give your details.

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Residential Team - areas cover noise, housing and public health
Residential Team - areas cover noise, housing and public health
01784 446251
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