Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

What is a HMO?

HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) – This is a housing classification, for a house (or flat) with 3 or more tenants, forming 2 or more households. For example, a two-bed flat with a couple in one room and an unrelated friend in the other would be an HMO.

If you are unsure whether you need a HMO licence, you can check the flowchart below.

Do you require a HMO licence flowchart

Download HMO Licence flowchart as PDF

The different terms of reference surrounding HMOs

Licensing - Mandatory Licensing – As the name suggests, this is a mandatory legislation that covers HMOs with 3-storeys or more and have 5 or more people sharing facilities. This is regulated under the Housing Act 2004 and has been in force since 2006.

Licensing - Additional Licensing – This is discretionary scheme that is introduced by a local council. This scheme covers all other HMOs that are not covered by the Mandatory

Licensing scheme, also including the 2-bed flat example that we mentioned in the HMO definition above. Worcester City Council is beginning this scheme on 1 September 2015.

Planning Permission – Sui Generis – 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.

Planning Permission – Article 4 – From 1 July 2014, planning permission is required to convert a single family house into all other smaller HMOs (not covered by the existing sui generis use classification) in Worcester City. So, if you currently rent your 2-bed flat to a couple with a child, they move out and you wish to rent it to a couple and an unrelated friend, you will need to apply for planning permission before the 3 people occupy the property. Find out more about the Article 4 Direction for HMOs.

Licensing AND Planning permission -So, the term HMO refers to all HMOs and within that a HMO in Worcester City will be subject to Licensing AND require Planning permission. The type of licence or type of planning permission is dependent on the size of the HMO (as broken down above).

Main residence -In order to be an HMO the property must be used as the tenants' only or main residence. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence and the same will apply to properties which are used as domestic refuges.

I think my property is an HMO what does this mean?

From the 1 September 2015, all HMOs will be subject to licensing and will need either a mandatory licence or an additional licence. As of 1 September 2016 any unlicenced HMO found by the Council will be subject to a fee of £150 as well as the cost of the HMO Licence and any additional enforcement Notices.

Type of Licence

What type of HMO does the licence cover?

What do I do now?

HMO Mandatory Licence

Three –storey , five+ occupants

Please submit an online application.

HMO Additional Licence

All other types of HMO


A licence lasts for five years and will need to be renewed

Renewals are to be requested by emailing

In the future you will be able to re-new a licence online.


Worcester City Council Standards, Conditions and Management & Regulations Housing Act 2004 - Part 2 – Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licence conditions

If you think your property is a HMO then you will have responsibilities as the landlord/agent, and the property will also have to meet certain requirements.

The Government has prescribed certain standards that must be met in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) that are licensable under Section 67 of the Housing Act 2004. These prescribed standards are for deciding the suitability for occupation of an HMO by a particular maximum number of households or persons. The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006 and The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and other Houses (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 apply.


A licence to operate an HMO at the property is granted subject to compliance with the following conditions. 

Easy to use online tool

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has developed an easy-to-use online tool Safe and Secure Home, designed to show just what a safe, legal and secure privately rented home looks like. It also shows the steps that landlords can take to ensure rented homes meet the expected standard.

HMO Mandatory Licensing Fees & Charges

We increased our fees for mandatory HMO licence applications on 1 April 2016.

Please read the Strategy and Private Sector Housing fee table for a full breakdown of fees and charges.

What if I don't inform you of my HMO?

If your property does not comply, the City Council has a duty and variety of powers to ensure compliance. These range from the service of a formal notice requiring improvements, to taking control of the building. In all cases the City Council will initially take an informal view of the problem and work with the owner to gain the required improvements.

Further Information


Contact Us

The Strategy and Private Sector Housing Team

Telephone: 01905 722233