A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property which is let to 3 or more tenants who form more than one household and share bathroom and kitchen facilities. It is sometimes called a house share.

Each tenant from a separate family is classed as a separate household.

You can find the public register to check if a property has a current HMO licence.

Licensing information for landlords

The government has information on renting out your property on the GOV.UK website. We only operate the national mandatory HMO licensing scheme.

You must have a licence if you are renting out a large HMO in England or Wales.

Your property is defined as a large HMO if all the following apply:

  • it is rented to 5 or more people from more than one household
  • some or all the tenants share bathroom or kitchen facilities
  • at least one tenant pays rent or their employer pays it for them

Further guidance on HMO’s and planning can be found on our planning pages.

Licence restrictions

  • a licence is valid for a maximum of 5 years
  • you must renew your licence before it runs out
  • you need a separate licence for each HMO 

We may issue a licence for less than 5 years if we have concerns over the management or condition of the property.

HMO licences are not transferable to family members or new owners.

Licence conditions

You must:

  • make a licence application before the property is occupied by 5 or more tenants 
  • pay your licence fee when you submit your application form 
  • make sure you or your managing agent is a fit and proper person and has no criminal record or has not breached housing laws or codes of practice
  • send us an updated gas safety certificate every year 
  • install and maintain smoke alarms 
  • provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances when requested 
  • inform us of any changes such as change of address or managing agent 
  • make sure the house has a suitable number of bedrooms and shared facilities for the number of occupants 
  • make sure all bedrooms meet at least the national minimum room size standard 

Read our room size and amenity standards for licensable HMOs for more information. 

If you disagree with any conditions we set, you can appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal.

Apply for an HMO licence

To apply, download and complete your HMO licence application form.

Check if you are in an Article 4 Direction area and will also need planning permission.

Download the HMO application form

Send your completed application form by email to psechousing@southglos.gov.uk or post to Environment and Community Services, Private Sector Housing, PO Box 1954, Bristol, BS37 ODD.

Fees and Fines

An HMO application is only valid on submission of a completed application form and payment of the full licence fee.

Properties with up to five units of accommodation attract the standard fee of £881 from 1 April 2024. An additional charge of £43 is made for each additional unit of accommodation.

You could get an unlimited fine for renting out an unlicensed HMO.

Failure to license a HMO can mean that your tenants can apply for a rent repayment order for up to 12 months’ rent.

There is further information on our page, guidance for landlords of private housing. 

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