What is a HMO?

HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) – This is a housing classification, for a house (or flat) with three or more tenants, forming two 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.

HMO 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 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 £155 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

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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

UPDATE: Legislative changes affecting licensed HMOs

Extension of mandatory licensing

Changes are being introduced to extend the scope of mandatory licensing to more HMOs.  From 1st October 2018,  the “three or more storey” rule is being removed, which means that any property (regardless of the number of storeys) which is occupied by five or more people, from two or more separate households and who share a basic facility (such as a bathroom, WC or kitchen) will be subject to mandatory licensing.

As we have additional licensing in Worcester City, this will mean no immediate changes for any HMO landlord. From our records if you have a property that will be affected by the change in legislation, we will write to you separately and send you an up-to-date licence. This will show a change in licence type but all other details will remain the same, including the expiry date.  

If you believe your property is affected by this change and you have not received anything from us by 1st October 2018, please contact the Private Sector Housing Team.

National minimum room sizes

From 1 October 2018, all new and renewed licences will be subject to national minimum sleeping room sizes. These are:

Occupancy Minimum permitted room size
One child under 10 years 4.64m²
One person over 10 years 6.51m²
Two people over 10 years 10.22m²

Please note that these are the national minimum room sizes and the local authority will continue to have the discretion to set their own higher standards, but cannot allow smaller sizes than these. Please see the Worcester City Council Standards Conditions and Management document for minimum sleeping room sizes for those HMOs which do not have a communal lounge or dining area.  

These minimum room requirements will be added to all new licences (and existing licences upon renewal) as a mandatory condition.

We will contact all licence holders directly based on any information which we have, if we believe they are affected by this change.

If you require any further information please contact the Private Sector Housing Team on 01905 722288 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Requirement to provide waste disposal facilities

There will be a further mandatory condition added to all licences requiring that the landlord comply with the Council’s storage and waste disposal scheme.


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

Please read the pdf Strategy and Private Sector Housing fee table (93 KB)  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 722288
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.