HMRC’s definition is “a property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 ‘household’ (for example a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen”. It is sometimes called a ‘house share’. Common examples of HMOs are student accommodation and long-term accommodation for employees paid for by the employer.

‘Large’ HMOs are defined as:

  • Being rented to 5+ people forming at least 2 households. (e.g. 2 families of 3 each)
  • Some or all tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities.
  • At least 1 tenant (or their employer) pays rent.

Do I need to tell anyone I plan on letting an HMO?

If the property is in England or Wales, you need to check if you need to apply for a licence. If you are planning to let a large HMO then you need to apply and pay for a licence before you start letting. If it is a non-large HMO, then you should check if you need a licence as not all councils will require one. You can do this using the government’s online checker: The rules are different for each local council.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, you need a licence no matter what size HMO you are letting.

How do I apply for a licence and how long do they last for?

You need a separate HMO licence for each applicable HMO you are letting – and they last for a maximum of 5 years. You must renew your licence every 5 years. Using the government’s postcode checker should take you to the correct page on your local council’s website on how to apply: To be able to apply for a licence, you must:

  • Ensure that the house is suitable for the number of occupants you plan to have in both size and facilities available.
  • Ensure that you, or a management company, are ‘fit and proper’, with no criminal record or breaches of landlord laws.
  • Send the council an annual gas safety certificate
  • Send safety certificates for all electrical appliances provided for use in the property, if requested
  • Ensure smoke alarms are installed and working