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HMO licensing requirements

What properties require a HMO licence?

A HMO licence is a mandatory requirement when all three of the following items apply to the property:

  • 3 or more occupied storeys (including an occupied basement or attic)
  • 5 or more occupants (who comprise two or more separate family units or ‘Households’)
  • Shared amenities such as bathroom, kitchen, or toilet facilities or where all the units of accommodation are not fully self-contained (i.e. a kitchen, bathroom or WC are provided for the tenant’s use elsewhere in the building, but it is not situated in their unit of accommodation.)

Operating an unlicensed HMO is a criminal offence that carries a fine of up to £20,000.

Application evaluation process

In order to grant a licence we must be satisfied that:

  • The applicant is a fit and proper person and the most appropriate person to hold the licence.
  • The house is or can be made suitable for multiple occupation.
  • The proposed manager has control of the house, and is a fit and proper person to be the manager.
  • The management arrangements are satisfactory

A duty is imposed on the landlord to ensure the property has a good standard of repair, order and cleanliness in a property. Further details can be seen in the HMO management section.

A licence will not be granted until the applicant is proved to be 'fit and proper' as defined by the Housing Act 2004.

We have provided a booklet entitled Licensing of HMO's in England which will provide landlords with HMO licensing details.

Health and Safety Requirements

All landlords have responsibility for ensuring their property is safe and free from unnecessary hazards at all times. Landlords must therefore:

  • Provide their contact details to their tenants.
  • Keep fire escapes clear and maintain fire fighting equipment and alarms.
  • Ensure that the property design and structure will not cause any injury.
  • Provide a clean and continuous supply of water.
  • Provide adequate, clear drainage facilities.
  • Provide an adequate supply of gas (if any) and electricity.
  • Conduct annual gas safety checks and supply a gas safe certificate (if gas is supplied).
  • Check the electrical supply every five years.
  • Keep the property and any shared gardens in good repair.
  • Provide suitable rubbish disposal.

The local authority has to carry out a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) risk assessment on every HMO within five years of receiving a licence application. If works are required following a housing safety inspection landlords must carry out any works required.

The Housing Health and Safety Ratings System booklet provides a short guide to understanding how hazards are assessed in a property.

Applying for a HMO Licence

You can apply electronically for a HMO licence. Online payment will be requested by electronic notification. Supporting documentation should be uploaded along with completed application form (details of the required documentation are provided in the guidance notes).

If you know a property that is not licensed, please contact St Helens Council as soon as possible

We will process applications that have been confirmed as complete and issue notice of its intention to grant a HMO licence or otherwise within 15 working days of receipt. A HMO licence will usually then be issued within 15 working days, where no objections are made. Where supporting documentation or other matters are identified as outstanding, this will delay issue of the licence

Please note:

Tacit consent will not apply. It is in the public interest that we process all HMO licence applications before a license can be granted. Having made an application, if you have not heard from us within a reasonable time please contact us.

If you do not agree with our the decision to grant, vary or revoke a licence, or regarding conditions attached to a licence, you may appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal Service (RPTS). Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made.


Licence fees

New applicants

The premises will require a licence which covers a 5-year period however license fees are payable on an annual basis.

Fee charges for April 2018 - March 2019 are as follows:

  1. Year 1 the current charge is £200.
  2. Years 2 - 5 the charge is £200 for renewals received 20 days or less before the license renewal date
  3. for landlords who submit a renewal received 21 days or more before the renewal date there will be a £50 reduction i.e. £150 for the year.

If you own a property that requires a HMO licence and have not sent in an application form or you remain unsure about whether your property qualifies, you must contact us as soon as possible and we will discuss the licensing requirements with you.

Landlords who fail to apply for a licence will be at risk of:

  • Prosecution with an unlimited fine amount
  • Losing rent through possible rent payment orders, which requires a landlord to pay half his rent money back to each of his tenants
  • Problems getting possession of property due to the non-availability of a Section 21 Housing Act 1988

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

Some HMOs will need to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (often referred to as the RRO or the Fire Safety Order). These will typically be houses let as bedsits, hostels and blocks of flats. Communities and Local Government has the sleeping guide which relates to HMOs.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 came into force on 1st October 2006. This legislation requires a competent and responsible person, who has a degree of control over the building, to carry out a satisfactory fire risk assessment; and implement and maintain adequate standards of fire safety in the building. The Councils link to the New Fire Safety guidance sheet provides further information for Landlords.


How to contact us:

If you wish to forward a complaint regarding your property you can,

Telephone:  01744 676789

Email: contactcentre@sthelens.gov.uk

Write: People Services, Private Housing Initiatives, Town Hall, Victoria Square, St Helens, WA10 1HP