For more information on legislation regarding houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), please read the Housing Act 2004.

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 may include bedsits, shared houses (students or professionals) and some self-contained flats.

The current legislation requires landlords of large houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) to obtain a mandatory licence from the Council. This applies to properties that have three or more storeys (floors), and five or more occupiers. If your property falls within this criteria  then you have a duty to license the property. Please follow the link to the mandatory licensing page for more information and application forms.

The implementation of additional licensing was agreed by cabinet members and came into effect on 26 August 2013. This means that all other houses in multiple occupation within the following postcodes are subject to additional licensing:

  • PO1
  • PO4
  • PO5

The additional licensing scheme will cover all other HMOs within this area that are not subject to mandatory licensing. This will properties within the above postcodes which house three or more occupiers forming two or more households, including shared houses, bedsits, and some flats where there is some sharing of the kitchen/bathroom. This includes houses rented by students.

The scheme also includes buildings which have been converted into flats, and are normally defined as  section 257 properties. A section 257 HMO is a building that has been converted into a block of flats, which are all now self-contained, which do not comply with current building regulations, and less than two-thirds of the flats are owner-occupied.

Please note:  the only section 257 properties that will be subject to additional licensing will be converted buildings that are  wholly tenanted. Properties that do not require a licence are as follows:


  • Houses occupied by single households
  • Houses where there are up to 2 lodgers in addition to the main household
  • Households that act as host families for foreign students studying for short periods in these areas. 
  • Tenants of Housing Association or Registered Providers
  • Student accommodation operated or owned by an approved educational establishment

The licensing application forms can be found below, along with the licence fees. The application for a licence must be made by either the owner of the HMO or by the person managing the HMO.

Specific standards for licensable HMOs recommend the maximum number of occupiers who may share toilets, washing facilities and cooking facilities. These are more stringent than for singly occupied properties because sharing facilities can increase risks to health and safety and incur greater fire hazards. Please find more information on this in the document "HMO Standards", available below.

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.


For more information please see documents "Guide to Management Regulations" and "Guide to section 257 Management Regulations" located below.

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.

There are three types of application:

  • Standard HMO application - complete "standard HMO" for each property to be licensed
  • Section 257 properties - complete "section 257" for each property to be licensed

To apply for a licence, print out the required forms below, then complete and post them to:

Private Sector Housing, Portsmouth City Council, Civic offices, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, PO1 2AZ.

Or scan and email the documents to

For more information on how much a licence will cost please see the document "Additional licensing - fees" located below.

If you wish to pay for your licence:

  • 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.
  • By BACS or card over the phone - please tick the box on the application form and an invoice will be sent to you. All payment methods will be on the reverse of the invoice.

For further information, please email


Tags Open / Close

Related subjects Open / Close

Rate this page