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Introduction to this document

Flow chart – Does your building need an HMO licence (England)

A premises home to several unrelated occupants is known to be at increased risk of fire so local authorities impose strict safety requirements via a licensing regime. How do you know if this applies? 


The rules for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) apply to buildings where the residents are not part of a single household, and share some common facilities such as kitchens or bathrooms. The definition of an HMO is complex. Our Flow Chart - Does Your Building Need an HMO Licence (England) helps you to quickly work out the status of your premises and where you stand regarding licensing.

What is an HMO?

In England and Wales the applicable legislation is the Housing Act 2004. It states that an HMO is a building with three or more residents in more than one household, who share some amenities such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities. A second category covers certain blocks of flats which were converted before 1999.

What is mandatory licensing?

Mandatory licensing is a blanket rule across all local authorities in England which states that certain larger HMO premises must be subject to licensing. The authority can also require that other types of premises need an HMO licence and this is called an Additional Licensing area.