HMO : A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Licence in the UK - House Manage
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HMO : A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Licence in the UK

So, you’ve decided to rent out your property as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). HMOs, often referred to as house shares, are a popular housing option in the UK. But before you welcome your first tenants, there’s an important hurdle to jump: obtaining an HMO licence.

This guide will walk you through the process step-by-step, making sure you have all the information you need to secure your HMO licence in the UK.

Do You Actually Need an HMO Licence?

Not all HMOs require a licence. Here’s a quick breakdown to see if yours falls under mandatory licensing:

  • Number of Occupants: Your property must be occupied by 5 or more people who form more than one household.
  • Shared Amenities: Some or all tenants must share toilet, bathroom, or kitchen facilities.
  • Paying Rent: At least one tenant (or their employer) must pay rent.

If all three points apply, you’ll need an HMO licence. Remember, even if you don’t currently meet these criteria, future changes in occupancy could trigger the licensing requirement. It’s always best to check with your local council for the most up-to-date regulations.

Step 1: Contact Your Local Council

Every council has its own application process and fees. Start by finding your local council’s website and searching for “HMO licensing”. There, you’ll likely find downloadable application forms, information on fees, and any specific requirements they might have.

Step 2: Gather Your Documents

Here’s a checklist of documents you’ll likely need for your application. However, this may vary depending on your council, so double-check their specific requirements:

  • Completed application form: Filled out accurately and signed.
  • Proof of ownership: Title deeds or mortgage statement.
  • Property plans: Floor plans showing the layout and size of each room.
  • Gas Safety Certificate (CP12): Valid proof that the gas appliances are safe.
  • Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR): Verification of the property’s electrical safety.
  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): Demonstrates the property’s energy efficiency.
  • Additional documents (potential): PAT test certificates for portable electrical appliances, fire alarm and maintenance records, sample tenancy agreement.

Step 3: Prepare Your Property

While the licence application is being processed, ensure your HMO meets the following criteria:

  • Suitable Size: The property should have adequate space for the number of occupants. Room sizes typically follow minimum guidelines:
    • Single occupant (over 10 years): 6.51 sqm or larger
    • Two occupants (over 10 years): 10.22 sqm or larger
    • Single occupant (under 10 years): 4.64 sqm or larger
  • Fire Safety: Ensure working smoke detectors are fitted on each floor and a fire escape plan is clearly displayed.
  • General Safety: Maintain the property in good repair, addressing any potential hazards like trip hazards or faulty wiring.

Step 4: Submitting Your Application

Once you’ve gathered all the documents and ensured your property meets safety standards, submit your application to your local council. This can usually be done online or by post, along with the required fee.

Step 5: The Waiting Game

The council will process your application, which can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. They may request further information or conduct an inspection of your property during this time.

Step 6: Licence Granted (or Refused)

If your application is successful, you’ll receive your HMO licence along with any specific conditions attached to it. These might include occupancy limits, maintenance requirements, or fire safety procedures.

Step 7: Maintaining Your Licence

HMO licences typically last for 5 years. Before it expires, you’ll need to renew it by following a similar process to the initial application.

Additional Tips for a Smooth Process

  • Start Early: Don’t wait until the last minute to begin the application process.
  • Stay Organized: Keep copies of all your documents and communication with the council.
  • Be Prepared for Inspection: Ensure your property is clean, tidy, and meets all safety regulations during a potential inspection.
  • Seek Professional Help: If you’re unsure about any aspect of the process, consider consulting a qualified property lawyer or letting agent specializing in HMOs.

Remember: An HMO licence ensures your property meets safety standards and provides a suitable living environment for your tenants. By following this guide and staying compliant, you can navigate the licensing process

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