Houses in Multiple Occupancy

The Housing Act 2004 has introduced a new definition of a 'house in multiple occupation (HMO)'. The interpretation is complex but can briefly be summed up as a building or part of a building consisting of one or more units of living accommodation, or a self-contained flat; occupied by persons who do not form a single household and where there is some sharing of the basic amenities (washing facilities, toilets, kitchens). The main effect of this is to include shared student housing within this definition.

The Government intended that only high risk HMO's be subject to licensing. They are identified as those properties which comprise three storeys or more, and house five or more persons who form two or more households. A household can be a single person. Regulations to control the management of HMO's have also been introduced and they apply to all categories of HMO.

HMO's which require a licence must meet certain standards which are set out in the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation: A Guide for Landlords and Managers.

The Local Authority must grant a licence if it is satisfied that

  • The house is reasonably suitable for occupation by the number of households or persons applied for or determined by the LA having regard amongst other things to the provision of amenities and facilities.
  • The proposed licence holder or manager is a fit and proper person and is the most appropriate person to hold the licence.
  • The arrangements for managing the house are satisfactory.

Are there conditions on the licence?

All licences granted are subject to conditions which the licence holder must comply with either immediately or within a specified period of time. Certain conditions as detailed in Schedule 4 of the Act are mandatory and must be included in every licence granted. These mandatory conditions require the licence holder to:-

  • provide us with a gas certificate upon demand;
  • keep electrical appliances and furniture provided by the licence holder in a safe condition and supply on demand to us a declaration to that affect;
  • ensure that fire alarms/smoke detectors are installed and maintained in proper working order and supply on demand to us a declaration as to their condition and location;
  • provide occupiers with a written statement of the terms on which they occupy the property;
  • ensure that the licensed premises will comply with all statutory requirements this includes current and future Management Regulations.

Taking in to account these conditions as identified in the Act, we have produced a set of standard conditions which are attached to every licence. We can also impose any other specific property conditions considered necessary for regulating the management, use and occupation of the premises concerned plus its condition and contents. Where specific works or actions are required, these will be set out in specific conditions and include what must be done and the timescale for compliance. This will vary from premises to premises.

NB: Please note the standard conditions may be subject to variation where a premises requires particular management control, for example a hostel, B&B accommodation or Student Halls.


There is a fee payable by the landlord to cover the cost of administering the scheme and inspecting the properties to ensure that they meet the relevant standards.  The fee must be submitted with an application. Failure to enclose all of the required documentation together with the correct fee will mean that an application cannot be validated and will not be processed.

2016 HMO Licence Fees

Application Forms and Guidance

Variation of an existing HMO licence

An HMO licence may be varied wither by agreement with the licence holder or by us if there has been a material change in circumstances since the licence was granted.

Please note that a separate application must be made for each property licence you wish vary.

View Online HMO Licenses and Applications

How long does a licence last for?

Section 68 (4) of the Act provides that a licence may be granted for a maximum of five years. Licences will be granted for this period where landlords have been found to be compliant with previous licence condition, maintained good property standards and demonstrated good management standards.

If we have evidence to suggest that management arrangements or property conditions are not entirely satisfactory, or where the council has taken intervention against the landlord but is not so serious as to warrant refusal to grant a licence or where concerns are raised by the Police or other statutory enforcement agency, licences may be granted for a lesser period.

What happens if my licence application is refused?

The consequences of refusing to grant a licence are serious for both the landlord and us.  We have a duty to take on the management of the property by making an Interim Management Order. A full option appraisal will therefore be carried out before any decision to refuse to grant a licence is made and the making of a management order should be regarded as a last resort. Where a proposed licence holder or manager is assessed as being not fit and proper, we will work with that person wherever possible with a view to agreeing an alternative person who is fit and proper.

Can I appeal the Council's decision?

You may appeal if the council decides to:

  • refuse a licence
  • grant a licence with conditions
  • revoke a licence
  • vary a licence
  • refuse to vary a licence

Appeals should be made to the Residential Property Tribunal, normally within 28 days. The Tribunal will also hear appeals regarding any enforcement notices that the Council may serve.

Property Chamber, Northern Residential Property First Tier Tribunal, 1st floor, Piccadilly Exchange, 2 Piccadilly Plaza, Manchester, M1 4AH

 Will Tacit Consent Apply?

No.  It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted.  If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please contact it using the contact details below.

If you are a landlord or tenant and would like more information about HMO licensing please contact the HMO team by emailing: or by phone on 0191 211 6102.

Contact Details

HMO Team
Civic Centre
Newcastle upon Tyne


Phone: 0191 2787878

Other Relevant Pages

The Safety of Goods in Rented Accommodation

Page last updated: 
14 June 2016
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