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Guide to HMO Property Regulations (Updated: 2019)

We've had some significant changes to HMO Regulations in 2018. Amongst other things the full legal definition of a Licensable HMO changed.

The changes in 2018 effect mortgageability for Licenced, Selective Licenced and Unlicenced HMO's .

If you are getting started, our directions will help set you on the right path.

The main change in 2018 was to which properties required an HMO Licence. Prior it had to be on three or more stories. 

Now - any property renting to five or more people forming two or more separate households and sharing basic amenities. Require an HMO Licence.

An HMO Licence should not be confused with Selective Licensing. Your council may have issued an Article 4 Direction that may require you to have a licence regardless.

Further changes in 2018 include setting minimum room sizes.


A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) has many rules and requirements that is must meet to be in a lettable condition - as set out by central government and your local council. These conditions can also affect your ability to obtain a HMO Mortgage on the property.

Mandatory Licensing

Mandatory HMO Licensing is being extended to any property renting to five or more people, from two or more separate households, sharing basic amenities.

Previously HMO licencing was mandatory if it was three or more storeys. No more.

You will need to apply to your local authority before 1 October 2018 in order to comply with the rules.

Failing to obtain a licence where one is required is a criminal offence, you can be prosecuted and fined up to £30,000.

Article 4 Direction - Selective Licensing

In addition to HMO Licencing (of 5 or more people) some local authorities have Selective Licencing, often contained in certain areas of a city.

The requirements for obtaining a licence, your obligations and costs are varied from a council to council.

Always check with your Local Authority if they operate a selective licencing scheme and obtain a licence where applicable.

Failing to obtain a selective licence where one is required you can be prosecuted and fined.

Planning Permission

In addition to HMO Licencing or Selective Licencing - your HMO may need planning permission to operate.

The permitted developments order allow a class C3 (family dwelling) to become a class C4 (HMO) without the need for planning permission and vice versa.

This new permitted development basically makes all HMOs up to six persons lawful in England as long as the local authority has not issued a direction that the permitted development does not apply to a certain area.

Class C4 and permitted development are only permitting the use for up to six persons.

Therefore any property let to more than this has no specific class within the use classes order. The use of a property as an HMO with more than six people sharing is therefore known as a “Sui Generis”. This type of use will normally require planning permission

Failing to obtain a planning permission where one is required you can be prosecuted and fined.

Room Sizes

Rented Properties have had minimum room sizes and enforced under the Housing health and safety rating system ( HHSRS ).

This has changed for licenced HMOs, from 1 October properties will have to meet national minimum room size conditions.

A sleeping accommodation room for the use of one person over 10 years of age must be at least 6.51sqm in size. For two people over 10 that rises to 10.22sqm. For one person under 10 the room can be smaller, down to 4.64sqm. Nobody can sleep in a room smaller than 4.64sqm

There is consensus on other room sizes established by RICS. As an example, A kitchen for four persons needs to be 6m2, to 9m2 for six persons and 11m2 for ten persons.

A planning consultant will be able to assist you with the regulations regarding nationwide regulatory room sizes and RICS established minimum room sizes.

Licensing Conditions

Your HMO Licence or Article 4 Selective Licensing area will have conditions you must follow. These are varied from a council to council so you will need to ensure compliance of these conditions.

HMO Licence conditions are typically around safety, your local authority may recommend the use of Interlinked Fire Alarms, Fire Doors and Escape Windows.

Selective Licensing conditions are typically around Anti-Social behaviour and may require amendments to your Tenancy Agreements.

Standard Conditions

In addition to HMO Requirements - you will have to meet standard Private Rented Sector regulations. These, for example, include up to date Gas Check Certification, Electricians Certification, Installation of Smoke Alarms & Carbon Dioxide Alarms, Energy Performance Certificate, Deposit Protection and so forth.

You will also have to ensure the property is free from housing health and safety rating system ( HHSRS ) list of 29 Hazards.

Damp & Mould Growth, Excess Cold, Excess Heat, Asbestos & MFF, Biocides, Carbon Monoxide, Lead, Radiation, Uncombusted Fuel Gas, Volatile Organic Compounds, Crowding & Space, Entry by Intruders, Lighting, Noise, Domestic Hygiene, Pests & Refuse, Food Safety, Hygiene, Sanitation & Drainage, Water Supply, Falls associated with bats, Falls on the level, Falls associated with stairs, Falls between Levels, Electrical Hazards, Fire, Hot Surfaces & Materials, Collision & Entrapment, Explosions, Position & Operation of Amenities and, Structural Collapse & Falling Elements.

How it affects HMO Mortgages?

On Mandatory HMO Licencing and Selective Licensing, most HMO Lenders are ok with you not having it at application. What they do request is evidence that the application for an HMO Licence has been submitted.

On Planning Control Consent this should be obtained prior to a mortgage application.

On Room Sizes if the rooms are too small then you require short-term bridging finance. To change the layout of the property before applying for an HMO Mortgage.

The surveyor will identify small rooms and bring them to the attention of the mortgage lender, which can often cause a case to be declined. Unless it is viable for example the small room to be used as storage (and not living accommodation).

Misleading a lender about its use is bad enough but council enforcement officers can prosecute and fine you - if it is used otherwise. In addition to notifying your mortgage lender. The consequences are not worth being a "slum landlord".


Its about time we talked about HMOs we have some changes coming soon with (1) effecting multi-lets & (2) effecting all . I included (3) because many landlords dont know about this issue - many are certainly surprised when a mortgage is declined because of a kitchen.

1. More HMOs to require a licence!
Currently, you did not require an HMO Licence unless your property was at least three stories high (or in a selective licencing area).

From October 2018 this will change. Any property occupied by 5 or more unrelated people, or 2 or more families sharing facilities must have a licence.

The new requirement removes the "minimum stories" requirement.

If this refers to you then make sure you apply for your licence by October 2018 - there is no grace period. Do so or you will be in breach and may have "rent repayment orders" and other punitive measures.

SourceThe Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018

2. Your bedrooms are too small!
Currently, Local authorities regulate room size in HMOs by relying on their discretionary powers to impose licence conditions.

The government has announced new minimum space requirements in a bid to reduce problems of overcrowding.

Rooms used for sleeping by one adult will have to be no smaller than 6.51 square metres, and those slept in by two adults will have to be no smaller than 10.22 square metres. (if a communal living room is supplied)

Landlords will have to meet the new requirements at application or renewal of existing licences.

Local Authorities can still have there own standards that are larger than the minimum.

SourceGovernment reveals new minimum room sizes for HMOs,
Government Response and
HMO National Minimum Room Size and Suitability

3. It's not just bedroom sizes!
To avoid overcrowding under Part X of the Housing Act 1985 there is consensus on other room sizes established by RICS.

Other Room sizes may make a property unmortgageable if it has more occupants than the minimum.

A kitchen for four persons needs to be 6m2, to 9m2 for six persons and 11m2 for ten persons.

When a room size is smaller, the surveyor will report back "The current configuration of the property has been assessed in accordance with the minimum room sizes and amenities published within the current RICS guidance."

These minimums are subject to change due to Government looking to chance room sizes.

What are HMO minimum room sizes?

New Regulations in 2018 set out national minimum room sizes for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO). The room sizes originally were set by your local authority.

The new requirement for HMO Licences issued after 1 October is that:

... read more on What are HMO minimum room sizes?

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