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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Information and advice on HMOs for landlords and tenants. Also, how to apply for a landlord licence.

High level of demand

We currently have a high level of demand for licences and there may be a delay in issuing them. Please do not contact us unless we ask you to or your application is more than two months old.

If you live in an HMO, your landlord must meet certain standards and obligations.

To find out more, visit: Shelter: Rights and responsibilities in a shared home.

What a HMO is

These are a building or part of one, like a house, flat, maisonette or bungalow that is:

  • Occupied by people who do not live as a single household (people in a family relationship);
  • and where they share one or more basic amenities, like a toilet, personal washing and cooking facilities.

An HMO can be a:

  • House split into separate bedsits.
  • Shared house or flat, where the sharers are not members of the same family;
  • Hostel.
  • Bed and Breakfast hotel that is not just for holidays.
  • Shared accommodation for students. (Many halls of residence and other student living spaces owned by a place of education are not classed as HMOs.)

They can also be a house or building that has been converted into self-contained flats, if:

  • The conversion was below the standards set by the Building Regulations 1991;
  • and at least one-third of the flats are tenanted.

A purpose-built block of flats is not an HMO. However, a flat in the block can be if it is let to four or more tenants.

Is your property a HMO

To find out if a property is an HMO and if it should be licensed, visit: Residential Landlords Association. Their guide may be helpful.

Check the HMO register

We keep a register of all HMOs in the Borough. This is a legal document that contains information Councils must keep for each registered property.

Concise register

This is not a definitive record. It is updated from time to time and has only part of the information held on the full register.

Full register

To view this, please make an appointment, see: Contact us.

HMO legislation

All HMOs are subject to Government legislation. Through this, those that manage a property have certain duties and are responsible to:

  • Provide contact details to each household and have them on display.
  • Make sure that:
    • all means of escape from fire are maintained and kept free from obstruction;
    • all fire precautions are maintained;
    • and that steps are taken to protect occupants from injury.
  • Adequate fire safety measures are in place with regard to design, structural conditions and numbers of occupiers in the HMO.
  • Provide and maintain water supply and drainage.
  • Make sure the gas and/or electric supply is not interrupted without good reason.
  • Make sure annual gas safety checks are carried out.
  • Inspect fixed electrical installation every five years.
  • Maintain in repair and keep clean all common parts and installations and ensure common parts have adequate lighting. This includes outbuildings, gardens and boundaries.
  • Make sure each unit and furniture are clean at the start of each occupation. Also, maintain the internal structure and installations in each let.
  • Provide adequate waste storage facilities and ensure that there is appropriate collection of waste.

Tenants are also responsible too, as they must:

  • Allow the manager access at reasonable times to carry out the above duties.
  • Conduct themselves in a manner that does not hinder the landlord in the performance of their duties.
  • Provide such information to the manager as may be reasonably required in order to meet their duties.
  • Take reasonable care to avoid damage to anything which the manager is under a duty to supply, maintain or repair.
  • Store and disposing of waste in accordance with the arrangements made by the manager.
  • Comply with reasonable instructions in respect of means of escape from fire and fire precautions.

It is an offence not to comply with the regulations, although there is a defence of reasonable excuse.

  • The penalty on summary conviction is a fine, for each separate offence.
  • We may consider:
    • prosecution for a breach of the management regulations;
    • and also whether to take action under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004.

Also, we can:

  • Impose a civil penalty of up to £30,000, instead of prosecution.
  • Apply to a First-tier Tribunal for a banning order, where the landlord (or agent) has been convicted.

Housing Act 2004 and Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

The Housing Act 2004 deals with HMOs, but also covers all types of accommodation. It includes an assessment system called the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). This is used to evaluate risks in residential property.

Fire safety protocol

In general, residential properties are covered by this legislation:

These make local housing authorities and the Fire and Rescue Service responsible to enforce fire safety in HMOs.

A protocol has been made by the Council and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. This sets out how fire safety laws will be enforced in HMOs. It has guidance on which authority should normally take the lead inspection and enforcement role in different types of properties. However, this cannot cover every situation and some properties will be in more than one category.

If you have concerns about the standard of a HMO in Calderdale, please contact us.

Standards of fire protection in HMOs

The Housing Act 2004 is the principal tool used to assess and regulate fire safety standards. These standards will be reflected in the HMO licensing conditions.

For guidance on fire safety provisions in certain types of existing houses, read:

Furniture Fire Safety Regulations

The Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 1998 set standards for the fire resistance of domestic upholstered furniture and furnishings.

The regulations apply to:

  • Landlords or agents, when they let a property or replace furniture, which includes holiday lets.
  • Also, manufacturers and retailers of new or second-hand furniture, which includes charity shops and mail order firms.

Any place let since 1st January 1997 must only have furniture and furnishings that comply. A few exemptions still apply to long-standing tenancies, but most current lets will be covered by the regulations.

Those provided by the landlord should be fire resistant. This applies to all landlords, which includes private, HMO and Council.

This includes:

  • Sofas and armchairs.
  • Beds, headboards and mattresses.
  • Sofa beds and futons.
  • Nursery and children's furniture.
  • Loose and stretch covers for furniture.
  • Cushions and seat pads.
  • Furniture in new caravans.
  • Garden furniture which is used indoors.

There should be a symbol on any of the above items to state it is fire resistant.

If they are not fire resistant and your landlord will not replace them, inform the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service. They can take action against your landlord:

Licensing of HMOs

Definition of a HMO subject to licensing

This can be found in:

  • Part two of the Housing Act 2004;
  • and The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) Order 2018.

HMOs must be licensed if:

  • they are occupied by five or more people from two or more households;
  • and there is a shared amenity, such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.

If you buy a property that has a mandatory licence, it cannot be transferred to you. You must apply in the name of a person or company.

Registered providers

You may not need a licence.

For the official list of those who are registered, please visit: Registered providers of social housing (GOV.UK).

Planning permission

To comply with planning legislation, planning consent may need to be obtained for a HMO.

Building regulations

It is necessary to identify any relevant regulations before repair, renewal or maintenance work is carried out on a property.

Please note: Consent will be required.

If you operate without a licence

This is a criminal offence. We will consider these actions:

  • 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/victim surcharge.
  • Rent Repayment Order. (You could have to repay up to 12 months rental income.)
  • Add you to the Rogue Landlords Database.
  • Other actions in line with our enforcement policy.

If a property is not licensed

You cannot use a Notice of Seeking Possession under Section 21 Housing Act 1988 to evict your tenants.

How to apply for a licence

Anyone who owns or manages an HMO that must be licensed has to apply to the Council for a licence.

We must give a licence if we are satisfied that the:

  • HMO is reasonably suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the licence.
  • Proposed licence holder is a 'fit and proper person'.
  • Proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the licence.
  • Proposed Manager (if any) is 'fit and proper'.
  • Proposed management arrangements are satisfactory. The person involved in the management of the HMO is competent. The financial structures for the management are suitable.

A licence can be issued that lasts up to five years, but can be for a shorter period of time.

Before you start

You need a separate licence for each rented property.

To fill in the form, you will need:

  • An email address.
  • Around 30 minutes to complete the form.
  • Mortgage company details.
  • Names, addresses and contact details of the owners, managing agents or anyone else with a legal interest in the property.
  • Property details such as the number and type of rooms.
  • Details of other licence holders.
  • Details of other properties you have a licence for in the UK.

New applications

New applications applies if:

  • You have recently converted a property to a HMO containing 5 or more persons. This would be forming 2 or more households and the sharing of amenities.
  • The number of occupants within an existing HMO has increased to 5 or more persons. This would be forming 2 or more households and the sharing of amenities.
  • The previous licence has expired.
  • You have recently purchased a property which was previously licensed. Licences cannot be transferred.

Apply for a new HMO

Along with the main webform, you must complete three declarations:

  • Electrical safety.
  • Portable application safety.
  • Soft furnishings.

You will be able to download these from the main form:

Apply for a HMO licence (link to be published soon.)

Renewal applications

This applies if:

  • You are the holder of an existing licence which is due to expire in the next 30 days

    (Please use the above webform to make sure we have all of the information we need.)


This applies if:

  • There is an increase or decrease in the number of occupants or households.
  • Change to the layout of the property.
  • Amend of remove a specific condition.

Please use mandatory licensing application form to ensure that we have all of the required information.

After you have applied

We will:

  • Acknowledge receipt of your application.
  • Check to make sure everything you sent is complete and correct.
  • Arrange an inspection of the HMO with you. This is to see if any work needs to be done before it can be licensed.
  • Send you details of how to the pay the initial fee. (This is not refundable.)
  • Issue the licence and enter the details on a public register that we must keep. This is only done after you application has been processed and we have received your final fee.

We will notify you in writing to confirm if you will be issued a licence or not.

How to pay

The licence is paid for in two stages:

  • The initial fee must be paid when you apply.
  • The rest must be paid before the licence can be issued.

For fees, please see: Fees and charges.

To pay, please select this link:

Pay for a new HMO application or renewal

Our standards

Contact us

For more help and advice, please contact Community Safety:

Community Safety:

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