House in multiple occupation (HMO) - licence, fees and rules

Basic rules: letting a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

To let or create an HMO, ensure you apply for a licence if that is necessary.

We would also highly recommend that you make contact with us to tell us about your plans so we can ensure you get things right from the start.

Planning permission for HMOs

Houses can be converted to HMOs without making a planning application so long as it has six or fewer people living in it. If there are more than six people, a planning application will be required.

For further information visit change of use (

Standards and regulations

All HMOs, whether or not a licence is required, must meet minimum standards. We routinely inspect HMOs in the borough to ensure they are:

  • Safe
  • Managed properly
  • Have adequate sanitary and kitchen facilities
  • Not overcrowded

The following apply or are relevant to all HMOs in the borough:

  • The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006
  • The National Fire Safety Guidance LACORS fire safety standards determines the required firefighting and detection equipment
  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires all 'responsible' persons, that is, landlords and managers, to undertake a fire risk assessment of all licensed HMOs

In this borough, licensed HMOs are also given licence conditions which have to be followed.

Basic rules to follow

We have developed a set of basic rules and minimum room sizes which must be followed by HMO landlords in this borough:

  • No more than two people must sleep in the same room, irrespective of age
  • Not to occupy the premises with more than five persons unless it is licensed with us
  • Rooms must not be shared, unless the individuals concerned consent to share the room (for example, couples). The room must be large enough to allow this (see below)
  • Children, 11 years old or older, should not share bedrooms with parents
  • No bathroom, toilet, office, lobby, kitchen, cupboard, corridor or circulation space must be used for sleeping purposes
  • Inner bedrooms are not acceptable (This is a bedroom which can only be accessed by passing through another room, such as a lounge, kitchen or bedroom.)
  • All rooms used as sleeping accommodation must have a ceiling height of at least 2.14 metres over a minimum of 75% of the room area. Any floor area where the ceiling height is less than 1.53 metres will be disregarded when calculating the room size
  • Irrespective of the floor area, we will consider the shape of the room and the useable living space within the room when determining whether or not it is suitable to be used  as sleeping accommodation
  • Although basements and loft spaces may be used as sleeping accommodation, it is recommended that you contact the Private Sector Housing team to obtain advice as there are often additional hazards associated with loft spaces and basement rooms
  • No one shall sleep in a room without any access to natural light, heating and ventilation (for example, basements without windows)

Ideal minimum room sizes

In shared houses/flats

Minimum size of bedrooms:
  • 6.52 square metres for a single person
  • 10.23 square metres if occupied by two people
Common rooms required:

HMO occupied by one to five people:

The kitchen must have a minimum size of 7 square metres and there must be an additional living room or dining room with a minimum size of 11 square metres, or there must be a kitchen diner with a minimum size of 16.5 square metres.

HMO occupied by six to 10 people:
The kitchen must have a minimum size of 10 square metres and there must be an additional living room or dining room with a minimum size of 16.5 square metres or there must be a kitchen diner with a minimum size of 19.5 square metres

Kitchens must also be a minimum of 1.8 metres wide to allow occupants to move around safely. 

Bedsits (rooms provided with cooking facilities)

  • If occupied by one person: there is a minimum room size of 13 square metres
  • If occupied by two people: there is a minimum room size of 20.5 square metres

No separate communal lounge, kitchen or dining room is required.

Last updated: ‎02/03/2023 13:05