Since 2006 a property has been required to be licensed as an HMO through the local authority if it has three or more storeys and is rented to five or more people from two or more households with shared facilities like a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. A household is defined as family, cohabiting couple and five or more friends - these are deemed to be five or more separate households even if they share the same tenancy.
However on in June 2018 the government published new guidance for local authorities on the mandatory licensing of homes in multiple occupation. The guidance sets out the criteria on changes for mandatory licensing of HMOs and new guidance for room sizes and waste management.
The main change for the licensing of HMOs is that mandatory licensing will no longer be limited to HMOs that are three or more storeys high. It will also include houses and flats with one or two storeys that meet the existing criteria for an HMO.
Applying for a Licence
Landlords owning properties that meet the new criteria for HMOs should apply for a licence to their local authority. In Bristol this is done on line at the following page on the council’s website:
Applications must be received by 1st October or the property will be treated as unlicensed and this may result in legal action and financial penalties.
HMOs are subject to inspection by the council and details of this are available on the following page of the council’s website:
Additional and Selective Licensing
Local authorities have had discretionary powers to extend licensing to smaller HMOs (additional licensing) and to extend licensing to all rented property in a designated area (selective licensing). Some landlords who already have a licence under additional or selective licensing schemes will have properties that now come under the extended scope of mandatory HMO licensing. Such landlords probably do not need to reapply for a licence until their existing licence expires but it would be advisable to check on this with the local council.