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Apply for or renew a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property which is occupied by 3 or more people forming 2 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 3 storeys or more and 2 or more households made of at least 5 people. From 1 October 2018, mandatory HMO licensing changed so it now also includes buildings with one or two storeys.

What buildings are included?

  • Properties with 5 or more people who form 2 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 2 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 mandatory HMO 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 02392 841659 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.)
Floor plans

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.

Required documents
  1. A current certificate certifying the safety of the landlord’s gas appliances and installations (if present).
  2. A current certificate of service demonstrating the proper operation of the emergency lighting system (if present).
  3. A satisfactory Electrical installation Condition Report or similar
  4. A current certificate of service demonstrating the proper operation of the fire alarm system(s)
  5. A current PAT certificate (electrical appliance safety certificate) for appliances provided by the landlord (if required).
  6. A current fire risk assessment.

Please ensure documents are in date at the time of the application and haven’t expired.

HMO standards

Please refer to the Private Sector Housing Space & Amenity Standards for requirements.

Enforcement

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 psh@portsmouthcc.gov.uk 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.