HMO mandatory, additional and selective licensing FAQs

  • 1, What is an HMO

    HMO stands for house in multiple occupation.

    It is a house or flat which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet. 

    The full definition and exclusions can be found in the Housing Act 2004, Section 254 to 264 and Schedule 14.

  • 2, What is a household?

    A household can be one person or several people provided that they are all members of the same family. Half-relatives will be treated as full relatives. A foster child living with his foster parent is treated as living in the same household as his foster parent. 

    Domestic staff members are also included in the household if they are living rent-free in accommodation provided by the person for whom they are working.

  • 3, How do I know if my property is an HMO?

    Below is a table to show some examples of what does and does not constitute an HMO.

    Here are some examples to show what can be an HMO

    An HMO can be a:

    • 2 bedroom flat with 1 cohabiting couple living with 1 unrelated tenant
    • 3 bedroom house with 3 unrelated tenants

    An HMO isn't a:

    • 2 bedroom house or flat with 2 unrelated tenants
    • 3 bedroom house with a brother, sister and cousin sharing
  • 4, How long is the licence valid for?

    Licences can be granted for up to five years. The council may grant licences for shorter periods, such as two years, in certain circumstances. If your licence period is less than five years you will be informed in writing why the council has limited the period.

  • 5, Are there conditions attached to the licence?

    There will be a number of conditions attached to licences, some of which are set out in legislation or regulations ('mandatory conditions') and some of which will be prescribed by the council. 

Mandatory licensing

  • 1, What are the requirements for a mandatory licence for an HMO?

    HMOs are required to meet certain standards for the number of people living in the accommodation, the size of the rooms they occupy, the number of shared amenities per person e.g. bathrooms and kitchens and fire safety measures e.g. fire alarms, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, fire doors, fire exits and signage and thermal comfort and energy efficiency measures.  

    The HMOs also have to be managed properly and checks are carried out to make sure that landlords/managers are “fit and proper” and do not have unspent criminal convictions. 

  • 2, How much does a licence cost?

    If the property requires a Mandatory HMO Licence, the fee depends on the number of bedrooms. In 2022/23 the fee is £1,300 for a 5 bedroom HMO plus £160 for each additional bedroom.

    For an Additional HMO or Selective Licence the fee is £560.

    There's a discount of £80 if you are a member of an accredited landlord body such as the NLA, RLA or LLAS or a discount of £50 if you have signed up to the landlord rental charter as part of the application process.

    Only one discount is applied per licence

    Payment must be made online when you make your application 

    We do not accept cheques or cash payments.

Additional licensing

  • 1, What is the additional licensing scheme?

    This is a discretionary scheme that the council has adopted to help to deal with the problems associated with HMOs that are not already covered by mandatory licensing.

    This can be that safety standards are not being met or that properties are not being managed properly and will include typically smaller privately rented shared houses and flats and some sub standard property conversions. 

  • 2, When does the additional licensing scheme come into force?

    Our additional licensing scheme started on 5 June 2017 and lasts for 5 years. 

    Whilst this scheme expires on the 4 June 2022, the council have approved a new additional licensing scheme which will commence on the 5 June 2022 and will run until 4 June 2027.

  • 5, What types of HMOs are not subject to licensing?

    The following exemptions apply: 

    There are other properties that are not regarded as HMOs, that are excluded as detailed in the Housing Act 2004: 

    1. Buildings controlled or managed by public sector bodies e.g. registered social landlords, police authorities etc. 
    2. Buildings regulated by other legislation e.g. care homes, detention centres etc. 
    3. Buildings controlled or managed by an educational establishment (specified by type or otherwise) and occupied by the establishment's students 
    4. Buildings occupied by religious communities whose principal occupation is prayer, contemplation, education or the relief of suffering 
    5. Buildings occupied by the owner and members of his household, provided there are no more than two other persons (e.g. lodgers) 
    6. Buildings occupied only by two persons who form two households 
    7. Privately rented HMOs in Hammersmith & Fulham with three or more storeys occupied by five or more people (including children) who form two or more households will continue to require a licence under the mandatory licensing scheme. 
  • 6, How does additional HMO licensing work?

    Anyone who owns or manages an HMO in H&F has to apply to the council for a licence. The council must issue a licence if it is satisfied that:

    • the HMO is reasonably suitable for occupation by the number of occupants/households allowed under the licence and  
    • the proposed licence holder is a 'fit and proper person' and  
    • the proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the licence and  
    • the proposed manager (if there is one) is a 'fit and proper person' and  
    • the proposed management arrangements are satisfactory and  
    • the person involved in the management of the HMO is competent 

    If the council is not satisfied with the above then they may decide to refuse the licence or impose further conditions on the licence holder to, for example, to make the property suitable. 

    A copy of the proposed licence or reasons for proposing to refuse the licence has to be issued before a final decision is made. This allows applicants a further period in which to make representations on the council's proposed course of action. 

    Following the representation period a final decision is made and the licence is either issued or refused. There is then an opportunity to appeal to a tribunal if you are not satisfied with the council's decision.

Selective licensing

  • 1, What is selective licensing?

    The Housing Act 2004 allows local authorities to designate selective licensing areas in wards, streets, and can designate the whole borough, if the area is experiencing one or more of the following conditions:

    • • Low housing demand (or is likely to become such an area)
    • • A significant and persistent problem caused by antisocial behaviour

    On 6 December 2021 Hammersmith council decided to renew the selective licensing scheme for a period of 5 years.  We have designated 24 streets for the purposes of the scheme. Please see the report to cabinet which describes our findings.

    Improving private sector housing through discretionary property licensing (pdf) 

    The streets in the new scheme

    The 8 new streets are marked with an asterisk.

    Askew Road          
    Baron's Court Road*          
    Bloemfontein Road           
    Blythe Road*          
    Coningham Road*          
    Crookham Road*         
    Dalling Road          
    Dawes Road          
    Fulham Road 
    Goldhawk Road*
    Greyhound Road
    King Street
    Lime Grove
    New King's Road 
    North End Road
    Richmond Way*
    Scrubs Lane
    Shepherd's Bush Road
    Sinclair Road*
    Talgarth Road 
    Uxbridge Road 
    Wandsworth Bridge Road* 
    Wood Lane 
    Woodstock Grove 

  • 5, When should landlords apply for a licence?

    You will require a licence if you let a property on one of the following streets to a:

    • Single family, including a couple
    • Single person, or
    • No more than two people unrelated (not a couple)
  • 7, My licence expired on 4 June 2022 do I need to renew?

    No, please note we would like to apologise for an administrative error.  This affects licence holders where their licence expired on the 4 June 2022.  Such licenses will expire later than this. Please contact our licensing team who will be able to advise you of the correct expiry date for your licence.  All licences are in the process of being reissued and should be completed by the second week of September 2022.

  • 10, Are there any properties that are exempt from selective licensing?

    Some properties would be exempt from licensing, including:

    • Local Housing Authorities or Registered Social Landlords (Housing Associations) tenancies
    • Where a family member rents the property from the owner
    • Where the building owner lives in the home and rents rooms up to two lodgers
    • Licensable HMO's (Houses in Multiple Occupation) under part 2 of the housing act 2004
    • Properties where the council has taken action to close the property down.
    • 13, ​​​​​​​Is there a 'fit and proper' test for landlords?

      Yes, all landlords applying for a licence will have to have a ‘fit and proper’ person check. This will include things like:

      • Any unspent housing convictions, offenses involving fraud, violence, or drugs
      • Any offence listed in the Schedule 3 to the Sexual Offences Act 2003
      • Any unlawful discrimination on the grounds of sex, colour, race, ethnic or disability in connection with the carrying out of any business.
    • 14, ​​​​​​​What are the penalties for not having a licence?

      There could be an unlimited fine on prosecution.

      A financial penalty of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution.

      The landlord maybe considered not ’fit and proper’ and therefore refused to be the holder of a property licence. 

      The tenant or council could also apply for a rent repayment order, where the landlord could be ordered to pay up to 12 months’ rent.


    • 1, I already hold a mandatory licence for my property, do I need to apply for an additional licence as well? 

      No, a property can only have once licence. If your property has a mandatory licence, you do not need to apply for an additional  or selective licence as well.

      If your property has five or more occupants forming two or more households, then your property is already subject to the mandatory licensing scheme and you will not need to apply again under the additional or selective licensing scheme.

      However, you must hold a separate licence for each property that meets the licensing criteria, whether under the mandatory, additional or selective licensing scheme.

      A property can only be licensed under one scheme.

    • 5, I am selling the HMO soon what do I need to do? 

      Licences are non-transferable. When you sell a licensed HMO you must inform Hammersmith & Fulham Council that you have done so because, in effect, you surrender your licence. The new owner will need to apply for a new licence.  

    • 6, I've been asked to provide a management agreement as one of my license conditions, what does it need to include?

      As a minimum the agreement should include the following;

      • The licence holder has control of the property with the owners consent.
      • The licence holder has the monetary funds available for repairs and emergency works at the property.
      • The licence holder has consent from the owner to use these funds in an emergency without discussing it/contacting the owner for permission.
      • All responsibility for the management, letting and repair of the property is with the licence holder.
      • The agreement must be dated and signed, and give their timescale of the agreement.  Must be signed by both parties.
    • 8, I have been sent multiple copies of licensing documentation, why?

      The council has a statutory requirement to send a copy of the licence to all interested parties, you may be the rent collector, rent receiver, mortgage company, a statutory tenant, freeholder, managing agent and or leaseholder. If you hold more than one of these is applicable to an individual or company then you will be sent a copy for each.

    • 9, Can a property receive a property licence if the lease does not allow for private renting or use as an HMO?

      Yes. Legally any property which falls within the definition of either Selective, Additional or Mandatory licensing will require a licence. Whether the lease agreement allows for this use is a civil matter between the leaseholder and freeholder. The council will grant a licence irrespective of the terms and conditions of a lease agreement but may shorten the length of the licence to two years to enable the licence holder to either obtain a waiver of the lease condition from the freeholder, or to cease using the property in a way which breaches a lease condition.

    Planning permission

    • 1, Do I also need planning permission?

      Planning permission is and always has been required to convert a single family house into a large HMO with 7 or more unrelated persons sharing. This is legislation and is not new. A change of use will be needed from class C3 to sui generis.

    Application process

    • 1, How do I apply for a mandatory, additional or selective licence?

      You can now apply online for your licence.

      Apply for your property licence online

      Please take care when completing the application form and make sure you upload the required documents. 

      Incorrectly completed applications will not be processed and will be returned with a letter or email to advise of missing documents or information.

      If the necessary documents are not received within 28 days of the date of this letter or email, a further letter or email will be sent. If information is not forthcoming the matter will be referred to the enforcement team for further action. 

    • 5, How do I upload my documents?

      You will be able to upload the documents as part of the application process.

      The documents you will be asked to submit will depend on the information provided in your application form. For example, if you indicate that your property has a gas supply, you will be asked to upload a gas safety certificate.  

    • 6, Do I need to carry out a fire risk assessment?

      As the owner, landlord or occupier of a business or non-domestic premises you are responsible for ensuring it is safe from fire. This includes ensuring that a risk assessment has been carried out by a competent person. 

    • 7, What if my property does not meet the standards or requires work?

      These property standards apply to HMOs regardless of whether they are licensed or not. So, if you have been renting out your property as an HMO, then you should already be complying with these standards.

      Once your application has been processed an officer from the council will come to visit your property.  If your property does not comply with these standards or the living conditions are poor the council may place conditions on your licence or serve an enforcement notice requiring you to carry out the works.

      The fine for operating an unlicensed HMO is unlimited. A breach of any conditions of the licence carries an unlimited fine per individual condition.

    • 8, Once I have submitted my application, what happens next?

      The application is processed once all relevant information, documents and payment has been received.

      The information you provide will assist the council as to whether to grant or refuse a licence.

       A provisional decision is sent to all interested parties.  If no representation is received within the specified time period, the council will proceed to issue the final decision documentation, which is sent to all interested parties. 

      An officer will contact the licence holder and persons occupying the property to arrange an inspection to assess the property's compliance with the council's HMO Standards and other relevant standards. If the property is deemed to be non-compliant at the time of inspection, further mandatory conditions to carry out certain work may be included as part of the licence or the licence may be revoked. (There is a right for appeal against a decision) 

    • 10, Is the council using licensing fees to raise money?

      The fee charged will cover the costs associated with administering the scheme and the scheme is required to be self-financing. The council is not permitted to make a financial gain from the scheme. This fee has been calculated to cover the cost of the assessing applications, issuing of licences/ accompanying documents, inspections, licensing enforcement and monitoring of properties.