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.

The different terms of reference surrounding HMOs

Licensing - Mandatory Licensing – As the name suggests, this is 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 a discretionary scheme that is introduced by a local council. HMOs in the 5 Wards of Arboretum, Bedwardine, Cathedral, St Johns and St Clements, 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 – 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 Article 4 Direction for HMOs.

Licensing AND Planning permission -So, the term HMO refers to all HMOs and within that, an 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 that are used as domestic refuges.

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

HMOs will be subject to licensing 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 £168 (correct as of 1 April 2021, current charges can be found in the Fees and Charges Section below) 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 up to five years and will need to be renewed

  • Private Sector Housing Team will automatically contact licence holders 6 weeks before the current licence expires. If the licence holder has not heard from the Team by then please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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.

Requirement to provide waste disposal facilities

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


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 the 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. 

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 apply to any HMO (regardless of whether a licence is required) and landlords must still ensure that they:

  • Clearly display in a prominent position the landlord's name, address and telephone number contact details in the property.
  • Ensure all fire fighting equipment and fire alarms are serviced and maintained in good working order.
  • Ensure that the fire escape is kept free from obstruction and is in a good state of repair.
  • Undertake measures to protect the occupier of the HMO from injury with regard to the HMO design, structure conditions and number of occupiers. This would include the provision of mains wired smoke detectors, self-closing fire doors, provision of a suitable fire escape route, ensuring roof coverings are safe, any low-level window sills have bars or window restrictors.
  • To maintain water supply and drainage.
  • To supply and maintain gas and electricity. Gas Safe certificates to be undertaken annually.
  • To maintain common parts, fixtures, fittings and appliances. Including for example banisters, handrails, stair coverings, windows, light fittings, gardens, outbuildings, boundary fences.

In addition, all privately rented properties, including HMOs, require a valid electrical safety certificate to be undertaken at least every 5 years.

HMO Mandatory Licensing Fees & Charges

Please read the pdf Strategy and Private Sector Housing fee table (341 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.