Houses in Multiple Occupation

Currently if you rent out a property as a house in multiple occupation (HMO), which is three or more storeys and five or more people living as more than one household, you will require a licence from Winchester City Council. 

From 1 October 2018 the law will change as a result of The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) Order 2018. This will require all
multi-occupied dwellings with 5 or more occupants living as more than one household to be licenced. Landlords can make an application for a licence from 1 April 2018 although the licence will not come into force until 1 October 2018.

  • What is a house in multiple occupation?

    A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a building, or part of a building such as a flat, which meets the following criteria:

    • Occupied by more than one household and in which more than one household shares an   amenity (or the building lacks an amenity) such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities
    • Occupied by more than one household and which is a converted building and does not entirely comprise self contained flats (whether or not there is also a sharing or lack of amenities)
    • Comprises entirely of converted self contained flats and the standard of conversion does not meet, as a minimum, that required by the 1991 Building Regulations and at least one third of the flats are occupied under short tenancies
    • It must also be occupied by more than one household as their only or main residence. This includes occupation:
      • as a refuge by persons escaping domestic violence
      • during term time by students
      • For some other purpose that is prescribed in regulations

    There are different types of HMOs, such as bedsits (where the occupiers have their own bedroom and may share bathrooms and kitchens), shared houses, hostels and occasionally hotels and guest houses that provide accommodation for persons with no other permanent place of residence.

  • A household is explained as:

    Section 258 of the Housing Act 2004 and The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006 provide a detailed description but broadly a household is any family group of related people or a single person or a couple who live together. Household staff are generally counted as forming part of the family for whom they work.  Students sharing a house do not form a household unless they are closely related.


  • What standards are required?

    Houses in multiple occupation at times can be poorly managed and in poor physical condition. The sharing of accommodation, bathrooms, toilets, kitchens and communal areas such as hallways, stairs and landings, at times, can lead to problems associated with:

    • Inadequate toilet and personal washing facilities
    • Inadequate food preparation facilities
    • Overcrowding
    • Dampness
    • Inadequate heating and excessive cold
    • Electrical hazards
    • Inadequate fire safety

    We use national and local standards to assess the seriousness of any shortage in these and other areas. We take action using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to deal with any other hazards that might present a risk to the occupiers.

    There are specific amenity standards for licensable HMOs that recommend the maximum number of occupiers that may share toilets, washing facilities and cooking facilities. Additionally, there are management standards that apply to HMOs, The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 and The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006. A manager has a duty to ensure the property is maintained in a good condition, 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 his/her responsibilities.

  • Eligibility criteria

    Applications must be made to Winchester City Council.
    A fee is charged for the licence:

    • HMO Licensing Fee - £900
    • Re-Licensing Fee - £425

    Note: There is a 10% discount off the standard fee if a licence holder is a member of a recognised landlord association e.g. National Landlords Association and National Federation of Residential Landlords etc

    You must be a fit and proper person to hold the licence.

  • Will tacit consent apply?

    No. It is in the public interest that Winchester Council must process your application before a licence can be granted. This is because the licence determines whether the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold the licence and whether the property is suitable to be multi-occupied.

    However, after you have submitted your application for a licence you are able to operate a house in multiple occupation as if you have a licence until the Council has processed the application.

    If you have not heard from Winchester City Council within 10 weeks, please contact Private Sector Housing section

  • What can I do if my application is refused?

    If you have been refused a licence you may appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal:

    The First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber)
    Residential Property,
    Havant Justice Centre,
    The Court House,
    Elmleigh Road,
    Havant, Hampshire
    PO9 2AL 
    Telephone 01243 779 394
    Fax 0870 7395 900
    Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made.

  • What if I am unhappy with a condition imposed?

    Any licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition attached to their licence can appeal to the The First Tier Tribunal (details above).

  • What if I have a query about my licence?

    If you have any questions relating to your issued licence, please contact the Private Housing Section:

    Private Sector Housing
    Winchester City Council
    Colebrook Street
    SO23 9LJ