Apply for a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence online 

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property which is occupied by three or more people forming two or more households, where facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms are normally shared. It includes bedsits, shared houses and some self-contained flats. You can register and become an accredited landlord on our Rent It Right scheme.

Previously a HMO that had 5 or more households with 3 storeys or more require a mandatory licence. From 1 October 2018 mandatory HMO licensing changed and mandatory licensing is no longer limited to HMOs that are three or more storeys high occupied by 5 or more people sharing an amenity, but now also includes buildings with one or two storeys. This new legislation now applies to landlords across the UK.

What buildings will be included? 

  • Properties with five or more people who form two or more households. This includes both shared houses and bedsits where occupants share amenities. The property must be their main residence.
  • Flats that are occupied by 5 or more people who form two or more households that are within blocks of non-purpose built flats. This only applies where the block consists of more than 3 or more self-contained flats. This will include flats above and below commercial premises and flats in converted buildings.
  • A converted building which contains more than one unit of living accommodation but at least one of the units is not contained behind its entrance door. For example where someone has to cross the common stairway to access a facility such as a toilet.

How to apply for a mandatory HMO licence

If you have an additional licence that will expire and require a new mandatory licence either:

  • Complete the online licence form
  • Complete the PDF (both part one - personal details and part two - property details)
  • Make your payment either by:
                - cheque: please make cheques payable to Portsmouth City Council, and send to: Private Sector Housing, Portsmouth City Council, Civic offices, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, PO1 2AZ.
                - card over the phone: please tick the box on the application form.
                - online: visit the payments portal and choose 'miscellaneous', then 'licensing'. (Due to the way receipts are received, please add the addresses of the HMO properties the payment relates to in the message box at the bottom of the form.)

Please note:

  1. Floor plans - please ensure your label rooms (for example 'bedroom 1' and 'bedroom 2') with sizes in m2 (square meters), and that the rooms correspond with the form.
  2. If you have previously submitted your certificates with your Additional licence application form and the documents are in date and have not expired, you will not need to re-submit them.

Should you require any further information please contact or call 023 9284 1659.

HMO standards

The minimum room sizes for HMO properties with 5 or more sharing are:

  • 6.51 m² for one person over 10 years of age.
  • 10.22 m² for two persons over 10 years of age,
  • 4.64 m² for one child under the age of 10 years.

It will be a mandatory condition that any room of less than 4.64 m² may not be used as sleeping accommodation.

These size conditions are the statutory minimum and local housing authorities will continue to have the discretion to set their own higher standards within the licence conditions. If your room does not meet these standards landlords can be provided up to 18 months to comply.


When it is stated that there must be a bathroom and separate toilet, if that separate toilet is contained in another bathroom this will be acceptable.

Waste Disposal

All licences issued after 1 October 2018 will include a condition requiring compliance with the council's storage and waste disposal scheme. The scheme for Portsmouth City Council is that rubbish and recycling bins/boxes/bags must be presented at the front boundary by 7.00am on the day of collection (and not before 7.00pm the day before) and bins/ boxes taken back inside the property boundary on the same day. If a licence holder does not comply with this scheme it will be a breach of the licence and is a criminal offence.

Landlords or managers should abide by certain standards applicable to HMOs. For example, a manager has a duty to ensure the property is maintained in a good condition, that the water, gas and electricity supplies are maintained, the common areas are kept clean and in good repair, the living accommodation is maintained and arrangements are made for the storage of refuse. Residents are also required not to hamper or frustrate the manager from carrying out these responsibilities.


Failure to apply for a licence is an offence under section 72 of the housing act 2004 which upon summary conviction may render a person liable to a fine up to £20,000. An application may also be made to the residential property service for a rent repayment order. Should an order be made there may be a requirement to repay housing benefit paid to an occupier of the house in multiple occupation while the property was unlicensed.

Rent It Right

Rent it Right is a voluntary landlord accreditation scheme run by Portsmouth City Council which gives you recognition for being a good landlord.

It's aim is to recognise good rental practices and improve property conditions in the privately rented housing market by keeping its members well informed with matters affecting them, offering support and guidance throughout the rental process. 

Join today and give your tenants the confidence to know that you are a responsible landlord with properties that are of a good standard.

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