Homes and property Houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

Failure to apply for a licence

It's a serious offence for a person having control or managing a licensable HMO to do so without a licence and without reasonable excuse.  If you’re found guilty, the court can impose an unlimited fine. You may also have to pay back any rent you received during the time the property  wasn’t licenced.

We will give the person responsible adequate opportunities to apply for a licence before we take legal action. In most cases, we will write to you inviting you to apply. This usually gives you 28 days. In some cases this could be less, for example, if the tenant wishes to apply for a rent repayment order.

We will then  send you a reminder letter if you do not respond. Failure to reply to this may mean that we will have to inspect the property to confirm it is licensable. 

If we find that lack of proper management standards has put the health and safety of the occupiers at serious risk, we may take legal action without giving you further opportunity to apply. This is based on widespread publicity about licensing, therefore we can reasonably expect anyone renting out a HMO property to find out about appropriate standards and the law.

Even if you submit an application after we take legal action but before the case comes to court, it will not be regarded as a reason to withdraw proceedings; however it may be regarded by the Court as a mitigating factor.

Permitting excess occupation

The maximum number of people that can live in a HMO property is agreed when we issue the licence. It is against the law to knowingly rent out a licensed HMO property to more people than agreed and is an offence punishable by an unlimited fine.

If the licence holder was not aware, for example, if the tenants made the arrangement without the knowledge of the licence holder, we will bring it to their attention and will give them 28 days to take appropriate action, that is, to ensure the additional people move out.

Breach of licence conditions

By law, it is an offence punishable by an unlimited fine if the licence holder fails without reasonable excuse to comply with any condition of the licence.

A serious  or repeated breach of licence conditions may also be grounds to revoke the licence. Legal proceedings will be considered in all cases where a licence is revoked on these grounds.

Incomplete applications

Applicants who have failed to provide the full details required to make their application valid will be given adequate opportunity to provide the missing information or documentation.

We will write to you requesting the missing information or documentation to be provided within 14 days. Failing to respond to this letter will result in the application become ineffective.

Continued failure to cooperate may be regarded as an overall failure to apply for a licence and we may take legal action.

Was this page helpful?

Fields marked * cannot be left blank

Feedback submitted to us on this form is monitored but you won’t receive a reply. In an emergency, visit our emergency contact details page. Please don't include any personal or financial information, for example your National Insurance or credit card numbers.