Apply for a section 257 licence

On this page you’ll find information about applying for the new 257 additional licence.

We’ve also put everything you need to know about 257 buildings in this handy PDF.

You need to apply for a Section 257 additional licence if you operate a property which was converted into self-contained flats where:

  • the property has been converted into flats and does not comply with 1991 building regulations.
  • two thirds or more of the flats are rented out.

Please note that the Section 257 licence is for the building. If any of the flats within the building require either an additional or mandatory HMO licence this needs a separate application.

You may need to apply for an additional HMO licence or a HMO mandatory licence as well as a 257 licence.

The application process is designed to be easy to follow and if you get stuck at any point, need help or advice or would like a one to one appointment, we have officers available to help you. You can also view our licensing FAQs.

Preparing to apply

This information explains how to apply for a 257 licence. It’s similar, but not the same, as information you will need for an additional licence.

We’ve put together details of what you will need to include with your application and details of the different licence period criteria so you can prepare to apply. You can also view the application checklist here.

When submitting your application, you will need to provide:

  • A floor plan showing the communal area in metric units. You’ll need to label the usage of every room and show the location of smoke/heat detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. This plan does not need to be drawn by a professional.
  • A fire risk assessment (FRA)– if you don’t have a current FRA at the time of your application you will be issued with a 1 year licence and a special condition will be added to your licence requiring you to get an FRA for your HMO.
  • Safety certificates – all current and satisfactory at the time of application
    • Gas safety certificate (if relevant).
    • A satisfactory Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR).
    • Fire Alarm Test Certificate (if relevant)
    • Emergency lighting (if installed) – annual check
    • A PAT certificate for any appliances supplied by the landlord. If the items are new, then a copy of receipts will be sufficient.

Please provide the information and documents outlined below:

  • the number of self-contained-flats and, of those, the number
    • that the applicant believes to be subject to a lease of over 21 years; and
    • over which they cannot reasonably be able to exercise control;
  • in relation to each self-contained flat that is not owner-occupied and which is under the control of or being managed by the proposed licence holder, and in relation to the common parts of the HMO
    • a floorplan showing the number and location of smoke alarms and details of the fire escape routes and any other fire safety information provided to occupiers
    • a declaration that the furniture in the HMO or house that is provided under the terms of any tenancy or licence meets any safety requirements contained in any enactment; and
    • a gas safety certificate for any parts of the HMO over which the proposed licence holder can reasonably be expected to exercise control.
    • an EICR for any residential premise let out on a specified tenancy

Optional items

The following documents are optional, but are required to meet the criteria for a five year licence.

  • EPC Certificate
  • Details of accreditation if you are an accredited landlord or agent (copy of certificate or reference number) with an accrediting body recognised by the council (Note: to qualify for a five year licence you will require proof that you are accredited with a recognised accreditation body)

Fit and proper person

The main criteria for being granted an HMO licence is to be a “fit and proper” person to hold a licence. We may decide you are not fit to manage an HMO if you have:

  • committed any offences relating to fraud, dishonesty, violence, drugs, human trafficking, or firearms
  • committed offences listed in Schedule 3 to the Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • practiced unlawful discrimination in carrying out business
  • contravened any provisions in housing or tenancy law
  • been involved in anti-social behaviour

You will be asked to sign a declaration as part of your application process, and we may seek more information from you as part of our checks.

How long will licences be issued for?

Licences will be issued for one, two and a half, or five years depending on your circumstances. The details in this section show the criteria for each licence period.

Criteria to get a two-and-a-half year licence:

  • No fit and proper person concerns
  • For renewals, any conditions from previous licence have been complied with
  • No more than 1 justified complaint in the last 12 months related to the applicant or proposed licence holder
  • Application submitted as soon as required or, for renewals, 14 days before expiry of the current licence
  • Safety certificates submitted with application (all current and satisfactory at the time of application)
  • Stage two fee paid as requested

Criteria for a five-year licence

  • You’ll need to meet all the criteria for a two-and-a-half year licence
  • No justified complaints in the last 12 months
  • Accreditation with PCC approved organisations (you can view further details on approved schemes)
  • Provide us with either a valid energy performance certificate (EPC) dated within the last 10 years (must be band E or higher unless the property is exempt) for the entire building, or alternatively a valid energy performance certificate (EPC) dated within the last 10 years (must be band E or higher unless the property is exempt) for each flat that has been tenanted within the building.

Issues that would lead to a one-year licence

Where any of the following issues are identified a one year licence will be issued:

  • Fit and proper person concerns
  • For renewals, there are conditions from the previous licence that have not been complied with
  • More than one justified complaint in the last 12 months related to the applicant or proposed licence holder
  • Application submitted more than 14 days after 1 December 2023 (or for renewals, 14 days after expiry of current licence)
  • Safety certificates not submitted with application (or they are not current and/or satisfactory)
  • Fire risk assessment not submitted with application

What will my licence cost?

For full details on the cost of an additional licence see our dedicated fees page.

Enforcement

The additional licensing scheme has been introduced with a ‘grace’ period from 1 September to 1 December 2023. This is to recognise that this is a new process for landlords and agents.

Support with applications is available by contacting the licensing team on 023 9284 1659 or by emailing hmo.licensing@portsmouthcc.gov.uk. A proportionate approach will be taken to enforcement where landlords are able to demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the scheme.

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 an unlimited fine.

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.

A person may also be liable to a civil penalty under Section 249A of up to £30,000.

For further information on how the private sector housing team enforce its regulatory powers in the private sector, read our enforcement policy.

Further information

If you need any additional information, please contact hmo.licensing@portsmouthcc.gov.uk or call 023 9284 1659