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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 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. You can register and become an accredited landlord on our Rent It Right scheme.

Previously a HMO that had 5 or more households with three storeys or more require a mandatory licence. From 1 October 2018 mandatory HMO licensing changed and mandatory licensing is no longer limited to HMOs that are three or more storeys high occupied by 5 or more people sharing an amenity, but now also includes buildings with one or two storeys. This new legislation now applies to landlords across the UK.

What buildings will be included?

  • Properties with 5 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 5 or more people who form two or more households that 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:

Make your payment either:

  • 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.)

Please note:

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 ensure documents are in date at the time of the application and have not expired

Please 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.

Further information

Should you require any further information please contact or call 023 9284 1659.

We are 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.

HMO standards

The minimum room sizes for HMO properties with 5 or more sharing are:

  • 6.51 m² for one person over 10 years of age.
  • 10.22 m² for two persons over 10 years of age,
  • 4.64 m² for one child under the age of 10 years.

It will be a mandatory condition that any room of less than 4.64 m² may not be used as sleeping accommodation.

These size conditions are the statutory minimum and local housing authorities will continue to have the discretion to set their own higher standards within the licence conditions. If your room does not meet these standards landlords can be provided up to 18 months to comply.


Please refer to the HMO Standards Document for amenity requirements.

Waste Disposal

All licences issued after 1 October 2018 will include a condition requiring compliance with the council’s storage and waste disposal scheme. The scheme for Portsmouth City Council is that rubbish and recycling bins/boxes/bags must be presented at the front boundary by 7.00am on the day of collection (and not before 7.00pm the day before) and bins/ boxes taken back inside the property boundary on the same day. If a licence holder does not comply with this scheme it will be a breach of the licence and is a criminal offence.

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.


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.

Rent It Right

The Rent is Right scheme is currently suspended

Rent it Right is a voluntary landlord accreditation scheme run by Portsmouth City Council which gives you recognition for being a good landlord.

It’s aim is to recognise good rental practices and improve property conditions in the privately rented housing market by keeping its members well informed with matters affecting them, offering support and guidance throughout the rental process.

Join Rent it Right today and give your tenants the confidence to know that you are a responsible landlord with properties that are of a good standard.