Ryedale District Council


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Houses in multiple occupation licence

What is an HMO?

HMO stands for House in Multiple Occupation, which means a building, or part of a building, such as a flat, that:

  • is occupied by three or more persons
  • is occupied by more than one household, and where more than one household shares - or lacks - an amenity such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities
  • is occupied by more than one household and which is a converted building - but not entirely self-contained flats (whether or not some amenities are shared or lacking)
  • is converted self-contained flats but does not meet, as a minimum standard, the requirements of the 1991 Building Regulation and at least one third of the flats are privately rented
  • A building subject to a 'HMO Declaration' under section 255, Housing Act 2004

A licensed HMO is all of the above but is occupied by five or more persons.


Larger HMOs such as bedsits are shared houses, often have poorer physical and management standards than other privately rented properties. There is a significant risk of dying or being injured in a fire in such properties. The fatality rate in HMOs of three or more storeys is around four times higher than that for one or two storey HMOs. The people who live in HMOs are amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society. As HMOs are the only housing option for many people, the Government recognises that it is vital that they are properly regulated.

Licensing is intended to make sure that:

  • landlords or managers of HMOs are fit and proper people
  • each HMO is suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the licence
  • the standard of management of the HMO is adequate
  • high risk HMOs can be identified and targeted for improvement


No. Under the Housing Act 2004, there are three types of licensing:

1. Compulsory (required by law) licensing of HMOs for properties that are:

  • occupied by five or more persons, and
  • those persons form two or more households (see below for definitions of a household).

2. Additional licensing of HMOs

A discretionary power that Councils may decide to apply to a particular type of HMO, for example, two storey properties occupied by three or more students or asylum seekers.

3. Selective licensing of HMOs

Properties that are not subject to HMO licensing could be covered under a selective licensing scheme. This is where the Council may declare that certain areas, for example, where there is low demand for housing and/or antisocial behaviour, are appropriate for selective licensing. This licensing would cover all forms of private rented housing, including HMOs.

HMOs exempt from licensing

These include those:

  • buildings, or part of buildings, occupied by no more than two households each of which comprise a single person (that is two person flat shares)
  • buildings occupied by a resident landlord with up to two tenants
  • managed or owned by a public body (such as the police or the NHS) or an LHA or a Registered Social Landlord
  • where the residential accommodation is ancillary to the principal use of the building, for example, religious establishments, conference centres and such like
  • student halls or residence, where the education establishment has signed up to an Approved Code of Practice
  • buildings regulated otherwise than under the Act, such as care homes, bail hostels etc, and the description of which are specified in regulations
  • buildings entirely occupied by freeholders or long leaseholders

Definition of a household

The occupants are all considered to be part of the same household (Section 258 Housing Act 2004) if they are all members of the same family. That includes;

  • people living together as husband and wife or in a similar same sex relationship, plus
  • others related to them as parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or cousin. A half-blood relationship is treated the same as full blood and a stepchild is treated the same as a child.

Three unrelated friends sharing together are considered to be 3 households.

A couple sharing with a third unrelated person would constitute 2 households.

A family renting a property is a single household.


Anyone who owns or manages an HMO that must be licensed has to apply to the Council for a licence. The Council must give a licence if it is satisfied that:

The HMO is reasonably suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the licence

  • the proposed licence holder is a fit and proper person
  • the proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the licence
  • the proposed manager, if there is one, is a 'fit and proper person'
  • the proposed management arrangements are satisfactory
  • the person involved in the management of the HMO is competent
  • the financial structures for the management are suitable.

What does a 'fit and proper person' mean?

The Council may carry out checks to make sure that the person applying for the licence is a fit and proper person. In deciding whether someone is fit and proper, the Council must take into account:

  • any previous convictions relating to violence, sexual offences, drugs and fraud
  • whether the proposed licence holder has broken any laws relating to housing or landlord and tenant issues
  • whether the person has been found guilty of unlawful discrimination
  • whether the person has previously managed HMOs that have broken any approved code of practice.

What is meant by 'reasonably suitable for occupation for a number of people'?

For an HMO to be reasonably suitable for occupation for a relevant number of people, the Council will be using statutory instruments prescribing standards, recently produced by the Government, covering the following:

  • number, type and quality of bathrooms, toilets, washbasins and showers
  • number, type and quality of food storage, preparation and cooking facilities
  • fire precautions.


There will be a number of conditions attached to licences, some of which are set out in the Act and some of which will be prescribed by the Council in individual cases. The conditions that apply to all licences are:

  • Licence holders will be required to produce to the Council annually for our inspection, an in-date gas safety certificate (gas safety inspections are required yearly)
  • Licence holders will be required to keep electrical appliances and furniture made available by them in a safe condition
  • Licence holders will be required to ensure that smoke alarms are installed in the HMO and are kept in proper working order and make declarations to this effect to the Council
  • Licence holders will be required to supply to occupiers of the HMO a written statement of terms on which they occupy the house and make declarations to this effect to the Council
  • License holders are required to have an Energy Performance Certificate in place for the property.  At the point of application you must provide evidence of your EPC.  Download the evidence declaration form.


Following receipt of the application form and any necessary attachments including the relevant fee, you can expect to hear from us within 56 days. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us.

The licence can be issued without the Council inspecting the property. However, an appointment will be made to inspect the property prior to the licence being issued.

The Council is required to satisfy itself as soon as is reasonably practicable after an application for a licence is made, that the HMO is free from any serious hazards under the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). Please visit our houses in multiple occupation safety inspection webpage for more information.

In effect, this means that the Council will be carrying out two types of inspection at some point during the lifetime of the licence. To ensure minimum disruption to the landlord, every effort will be made to combine the two inspections.

Licences can be granted for up to five years. The Council may grant licences for shorter periods in certain circumstances such as if works are required at the property.

HMO Property Band fees (PDF, 2 pages, 111kb)


An electronic application form is below, if you require a paper application pack from Specialist Services, please contact 01653 600666 ext 43625.

Apply for a House in Multiple Occupation Licence [online form] Guidance to apply for a licence (PDF, 11 pages, 377kb)

Renew a Housing in Multiple Occupation Licence [online form] Guidance to renew a licence (PDF, 4 pages, 153kb)

HMO Property Band fees (PDF, 2 pages, 111kb)

Energy Performance Declaration online form

Landlords will have to pay a fee to cover the administration costs of the licence procedure. The Council has determined a licensing fee, details of which are available on request. It may be advantageous if a landlord or manager is a member of a professionally recognised body or accredited.


Yes. An HMO licence will only be valid for one property at a time. If you have more than one property, then a licence will be required for each of them. The Council will consider discounts for landlords with several properties.


Yes. Each Local Authority is responsible for determining and issuing a licence in their area. This allows Local Authorities to take their local needs and policies into account when making their decision.


If the property does not meet the conditions set out above and the landlord or manager is not a fit and proper person, the Council may refuse to licence the property.

If a landlord fails to bring an HMO up to the required standard, or fails to meet the fit and proper person criteria, the Council can issue an Interim Management Order (IMO), which allows it to step in and manage the property. The owner keeps their rights as an owner. This order can last for a year until suitable permanent management arrangements can be made. If the IMO expires and there has been no improvement, then the Council can issue a Final Management Order. This can last up to five years and can be renewed.

You may appeal if the Council decides to:

  • refuse a licence
  • grant a licence with conditions
  • revoke a licence
  • vary a licence
  • refuse to vary a licence

You must appeal to the First Tier Tribunal, normally within 28 days of the Council's decision. Details of how to appeal will be available to the landlord once the Council has informed the landlord of its decision.

For further information on the Residential Property Tribunal.


If a landlord or person in control of a property intends to stop operating an HMO or reduces the number of occupants and can give clear evidence to this effect, then he or she can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice (TEN). This lasts for a maximum of three months and ensures that a property in the process of conversion from an HMO, does not need to be licensed. If the situation is not resolved, then a second TEN can be issued.

When this expires, the property must be licensed, become subject to an Interim Management Order, or cease to be an HMO.


Operating without a HMO licence.

It's a criminal offence to operate a HMO without a licence when this is required. Possible action that can be taken against unlicensed HMOs include:

  • a formal caution
  • a penalty charge (up to £30,000)
  • prosecution (if found guilty, you could get: a criminal record, unlimited fine, and be ordered to pay court costs and a victim surcharge)
  • Rent Repayment Order (you may have to repay up to 12 months' rental income)

Note: You will not be able to use a Notice seeking possession under section 21 Housing Act 1988 to evict your tenants whilst your property is unlicensed.


Yes. A tenant living in a property that should have been licensed, but was not, can apply to the First Tier Tribunal to claim back rent they have paid during the unlicensed period (up to a limit of 12 months). The Council can also reclaim any housing benefit that has been during the time the property was without a licence.

Guidance has been made available for Local Government to retrieve the money if appropriate. Rent Repayment Orders guidance. (PDF 563KB)


Mandatory HMO Licensing came into force from 1 October 2018. The regulations replace the previous prescribed description of HMO, removing the three-storey rule from the definition of mandatory licensing.

The 2004 Housing Act introduced compulsory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

  1. The introduction of minimum sleeping room sizes and the maximum number of occupants
  2. A condition that you – as the licence holder – must ensure you comply with any Council scheme relating to the storages and disposal of household waste

Fire safety legislation

As a landlord you have to comply with two pieces of fire safety legislation.

  • The Housing Act 2004 applies to all residential properties
  • The Fire Safety Order also applies to some of these and this can be confusing for landlords.

National guidance

There is national guidance on fire safety for a variety of different kinds of houses and flats (PDF, 87 pages, 329kb). If the guidance is followed landlords can be confident they have met both sets of legal requirements. The guidance is not a set of standards; there can be a number of ways of reducing the fire risk.

If you wish to carry out your own fire safety risk assessment before deciding on what you should do the guidance contains a fire safety risk assessment template (PDF, 2 pages, 72kb).

Fire safety hazard on your property

If we find a fire safety hazard on your property, we will:

  • assess the fire safety hazard.
  • specify what work is needed. This work will reduce the fire safety hazard to a satisfactory level; this will not necessarily mean that on completion of the work the guidance will be fully complied with.
  • inform you if we believe that the Fire Safety Order applies.

Landlords should be aware that North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service may contact them at a future date to audit the risk assessment and fire safety measures provided as a result.

Landlords who manage HMOs need to ensure that they manage their properties in accordance with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England and Wales) Regulations 2006.

If they do not, they may be committing an offence and it may also affect their ability to operate as a HMO licence holder.

Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England and Wales) Regulations 2006 (PDF, 2 pages, 82kb)



Contact us

Ryedale District Council
Ryedale House
Old Malton Road
Malton, North Yorkshire
YO17 7HH

Email: Contact the Council

Phone: 01653 600666

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