Licensing of houses in multiple occupation


Rented housing accommodation provided by private landlords

On April 6, 2006, mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) came into force across England under the Housing Act 2004. Licensing aims to raise the standard of accommodation for people living in HMO’s.

Public register

The Housing Act 2004 requires the council to hold a public register of licensed HMOs in the borough.

What types of HMOs come within the licensing scheme?

All HMOs of three or more storeys in height and having five or more occupiers within at least two households must be licensed.

Premises exempt from licensing include those converted into self contained flats where the requirements of Building Regulations 1991 have been met.

Licence application process

Applicants must complete the form and return it to us with the appropriate fee and supporting documentation. Applicants must be a fit and proper person to hold the licence.

If the form is not completed or fee not enclosed, it will be returned with a covering letter requesting that the form is completed in full or requesting supporting documentation. We do not give assistance in the completion of the form.

Licences will be granted if:

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

Supporting documentation

  • Gas safety certificate
  • Fire Alarm Certificate
  • Electricity safety Certificate
  • Floor plan of the entire property

Licence fees

The cost of licensing an HMO is based on its size and the work required to process the Application.   A basic licence fee of £520 and £35 per habitable room let or available for letting is payable in respect of all licensable HMOs. A “habitable room” includes all bedrooms and living rooms. (In effect, all rooms other than bathrooms, W.Cs, kitchens or rooms too small to be  considered for sleeping purposes). 

The fee to re-license after three years, is £55 per habitable room let or available for letting but shall not exceed the basic licence fee of £520 and £35per habitable room.

The fee to Change name and address of manager on the licence is £150

The correct fee must accompany the application.

Please note that there is no provision for return of fee should the licence is refused or revoked

However, in the case of an application having been made for an exempt property the fee will be returned.

It follows, therefore, that persons applying for a licence should be fully aware of the Council’s requirements.

Cheques should be crossed and be made payable to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.


Fit and proper person

The Housing Act 2004 requires an applicant or person involved in the management of an HMO to be a fit and proper person. We must consider whether the applicant, any person associated with him or formally associated with him, whether socially or on a work basis has:

  • Committed an offence involving; (a) Fraud (b) Dishonesty (c) Violence (d) Drugs (e) Schedule three of the Sexual Offences Act
  • Practiced unlawful discrimination on the grounds of sex, colour, race, ethnic or national origins or disability in relation to a business
  • Contravened any provision of housing or landlord and tenant law. In particular, within the last five years been control of any property subject to; (i) A control order (ii) Proceedings by a local authority (iii) The local authority having to carry out works in default (iv) A management order under the Housing Act 2004 or been refused a licence or breached conditions of a licence
  • Acted in contravention of any approved code of practice

We will approach other local authorities, police, the fire service, the office of fair trading and any other authority for information and confirmation of statements made in relation to a licence application. The signing of the application form will be taken as your agreement to any such action.

We also require the applicant to provide a recent criminal records bureau statement in support of their application.

Licence conditions

We grant licences for a maximum period of three years. Each licence has conditions attached and the mandatory conditions under the Housing Act 2004 are as follows:

  • Gas safety certificate must be provided annually
  • All electrical appliances provided as part of the tenancy must be in a safe condition
  • All furniture provided as part of the tenancy must be in a safe condition
  • Smoke alarms are installed within the house and are maintained in proper working order
  • A declaration, as and when required by the council, as to the condition and positions of such alarms
  • The tenants must be provided with a tenancy agreement

In addition to the above mandatory conditions, we attach the following conditions in all circumstances:

  • The HMO will comply with statutory requirements and this includes current and future management regulations produced by the government
  • Anti-social behaviour within the HMO is dealt with under the terms of the tenancy agreement
  • Anti-social behaviour outside the building is notified to the council and the police by the licence holder or manager who will work with them to eliminate it
  • Maintenance reports must be supplied to the council annually for emergency lighting, fire detection and alarm systems
  • The licensee must be a member of the Landlord Accreditation scheme within two years from the date when the licence is issued
  • Within the common part must be clearly displayed: (i) copy of the licence (ii) copy of the current gas safety certificate
    (iii) name, address and telephone number of the licensee or manager of the premises
  • The licensee or his/her manager will provide, to any authorised officer of the council, access into the licensed premises as and when required to do so.

Additional conditions may be applied to a licence with respect to use, management and occupation of the HMO whenever this is appropriate and we may wish to see evidence of compliance with these conditions at any time during the license period.

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It is an offence not to licence an HMO which should be licensed.  A person in control or managing an HMO and who fails to licence it, in contravention of the Housing Act 2004, may on summary conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding £20,000.


Complaints and appeals

Please contact us in the first instance. You may also appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal regarding refusal, conditions attached to a licence, or any decision to grant, vary or revoke a licence. The address is

Residential Property Tribunal
10 Alfred Place

Tel: 020 7446 7700

Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made.

Contact us

The Health and Housing team
Environmental Protection Service
Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent
London E14 2BG

Tel: 020 7364 5008
Fax: 020 7364 6831