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Houses of multiple occupation - licensing

The Housing Act 2004 introduced a mandatory scheme to licence specific types of high risk houses in multiple occupation (HMO). It applies to larger, higher risk HMOs of three or more storeys, occupied by five or more people who share a facility such as a bathroom.

Definition of an HMO

An HMO means a building or part of a building, such as a flat:

To be an HMO, a property must also be occupied by more than one household:

Households are defined as:

There are exemptions to this definition and they are:

Amenity & space standards

HMO management regulations published in 2006 and 2007 require an "adequate number of bathrooms, toilets and wash hand basins suitable for personal washing of persons sharing those facilities" and there "must be a kitchen, suitably located in relation to the living accommodation and of such layout and size and equipped with such facilities so as to adequately enable those sharing the facilities to store, prepare and cook food". You can see the amenity standards PDF (133 KB) and space standards PDF (51 KB) for HMOs in the Borough.

Licensable HMO

The mandatory licensing scheme has targeted larger, higher risk HMOs because:

The mandatory scheme is a national initiative that affects every HMO in the country of the specified size - "a house of three storeys or more (including basements and/or attics), occupied by five or more people that compromise more than one household."  The licence holder must be deemed to be a "fit and proper person to manage or control a licensed HMO." Landlords or anyone who is in control of a licensable HMO must contact us to apply for a licence.

Exemptions in relation to licensable HMOs

These buildings are not HMOs (except for Housing Act 2004 Part 1 of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System):

A building where the person managing or having control of it is:

Getting a licence

If you own or manage an HMO which must be licensed, you must apply to us for a licence. Please ensure you read the guidance notes PDF (309 KB) before completing your application PDF (367 KB)

There will be a licence fee to cover administration costs, these costs are shown in the application form.  A licence lasts for up to five years and there is no pro-rata refund of the fee if the licence is surrendered after it has been granted.

We must grant a licence if we are satisfied that:

In deciding whether a person is fit and proper, we must consider:

We must determine the relevance of these things along with any other matters which we consider appropriate. We must decide if the proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the licence or if the proposed manager, if not the licence holder, is fit and proper. If we are not satisfied that we can grant a licence within these conditions we must refuse to grant the licence and make an interim management order (IMO). This allows us to take over management of HMOs for at least 12 months.

Contents of a licence

A licence will specify the maximum number of people who may occupy the HMO and may also include conditions about:

Breaches of licence conditions

It is an offence, punishable by a fine of up to £20,000 to own or manage an HMO without a licence or knowingly allow occupation by more persons or households than permitted by the licence.  If you breach or fail to comply with a condition of the licence you are also committing an offence and may be fined up to a maximum of £5,000.  There is also provision for the making of rent repayment orders in relation to unlicensed HMOs whereby there is a penalty equivalent to the rent received during unlicensed operation of up to twelve months. 

Duration of licences

A licence will normally be granted for up to five years.

Register of HMO Licences

We maintain a public register of all HMO licences issued in the Borough.  Currently there are no licensed HMOs in Fareham.

Gosport Register PDF (182 KB)

More information

You can get more information, including an information booklet for owners and landlords called "Reducing the Risks External Hyperlink" at the website of Department for Communities and Local Government at External Hyperlink.

Alternatively you may email us at or telephone us on 01329 236100.


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Fareham Borough Council, Civic Offices, Civic Way, Hampshire, PO16 7AZ
Tel: +44 (0) 1329 236100 | Mobile Text/Photo: 07876 131415 | Fax: +44 (0) 1329 821770
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