Important update: From 1 September 2023, all houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs) in Portsmouth will need to be licensed with the council. Find out more.
HMO mandatory licensing
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.
Previously, a HMO required a mandatory licence if it had three storeys or more and two or more households made of at least five people. From 1 October 2018, HMO mandatory licensing changed so it now also includes buildings with one or two storeys.
What buildings are 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 five or more people who form two or more households and are within blocks of non-purpose built flats. This will include flats above and below commercial premises and flats in converted buildings, and other flats as described in the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018.
- 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 need a new mandatory licence, either:
You must pay the HMO mandatory licensing fees by one of the following methods:
- 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 phone: call 023 9284 1659 during office hours
- 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 ensure you label the bedrooms (for example ‘bedroom 1’ and ‘bedroom 2’) with sizes in m2 (square meters), and that the rooms correspond with the application form. All other rooms including kitchens, communal areas, bathrooms, ensuites and separate toilets should also be clearly labelled along with the correct dimensions.
Please also show the location and details of the fire precautions such as fire alarms/smoke detectors etc.
The plan does not need to be drawn professionally or to scale. However, it must provide a suitable indication of the property layout. Please:
- label the use of each room (e.g., bedroom 1, bedroom 2, living room, kitchens, bathrooms, dining/living rooms etc). A conservatory or lean-to must not be used as a bedroom, lounge, dining room, or kitchen and must be clearly identified on the plan.
- indicate the room size (e.g., 9 m2, 3m x 3m etc.) excluding any en suite sizes in calculation. Treat the en suite as a separate room.
- indicate the position of fire detectors etc. and fire blankets within the property.
- A current certificate certifying the safety of the landlord’s gas appliances and installations (if present).
- A current certificate of service demonstrating the proper operation of the emergency lighting system (if present).
- A satisfactory Electrical installation Condition Report or similar
- A current certificate of service demonstrating the proper operation of the fire alarm system(s)
- A current PAT certificate (electrical appliance safety certificate) for appliances provided by the landlord (if required).
- A current fire risk assessment.
Please ensure documents are in date at the time of the application and haven’t expired.
Please refer to the Private Sector Housing Space & Amenity Standards for requirements.
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.
If you need any additional information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 023 9284 1659.
We’re required by law to provide certain information on a public register. This includes:
- The name, address and contact details of the Licence Holder and Managing Agent.
- Details of the maximum number of persons the licence is granted for.
- Details of the property such as number of storeys and the amenities the property has.