Apply for an additional HMO licence

On this page you will find information about applying for the new additional HMO licence. You can also apply for a mandatory HMO licence if your property houses five or more people.

You need to apply for an additional licence if your property has three or four 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.

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

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 supply:

  • A floor plan showing the room sizes in metric units. You’ll need to label the usage of every room including bathrooms and en-suites, and show the location of smoke/heat detectors, fire blankets 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.

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?

Licenses will be issued for one, two and a half, or five years depending on your circumstances. The details below 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)
  • Planning permission or a certificate of lawful use for C4 or Sui Generis use, or evidence of historic use of the property as an HMO (you will be asked to sign a declaration for the planning status of your property and you may be asked to provide evidence upon request)
  • 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 a valid energy performance certificate (EPC) dated within the last 10 years (must be band E or higher unless the property is exempt), even if the property doesn’t legally require an EPC

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
  • Planning permission not granted (for C4 or Sui Generis use or there is no certificate of lawful use) or unable to demonstrate historic use of the HMO
  • All building work requiring building control approval not properly certified

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.