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Houses In Multiple Occupation

We have many different responsibilities with regards to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO). These vary based on the way the property is occupied. We have to carry out an inspection to determine what is needed to ensure the health and safety of the occupants.

Applying to Licence a HMO

All HMOs with five or more people comprising of two or more family units will require a licence to operate. 

Previously an HMO licence was only required for properties with three or more floors. The main change has been the removal of the number of floors from the HMO definition. Properties with one or two floors, including bedsits, must now be licensed as well. Properties above commercial buildings (such as shops and restaurants) must also be licensed.

Download our guide to standards for Houses of Multiple Occupation [pdf] 240KB.

There are substantial penalties, including conviction, for the owners of licensable HMOs who continue to operate without a licence.

There is only one set fee for HMO licensing this includes new licences and renewals. The charge for an HMO licence £842. Any queries concerning HMOs and licensing should be directed to private.sectorhousing@ashford.gov.uk.

To apply for a licence or 'variation of licence' you will be required to complete an application form. We do, however, advise that you speak to an officer before returning the application. Download the HMO Licence Application/Variation of licence form and notes [docx] 193KB.

Once you have completed your application form, you will need to make an online payment.

Mandatory licensing of HMOs

In 1997 central government committed itself to providing greater protection for the health, safety and welfare of the occupants of HMOs. HMOs are often occupied by some of the most vulnerable people in society. As a result, an improved regime was added to the Housing Act 2004.

The 2004 Act defines HMOs as comprising houses, hostels, self-contained flats, or other relevant buildings, that are occupied by persons who do not form a single household. There will be a degree of sharing facilities, for example for cooking, or where the housing lacks such facilities, or is not self-contained.

New legislation was introduced on 1 October 2018 regarding minimum space standards for bedrooms:

  • Rooms sleeping one adult must be no smaller than 6.51m²;
  • Any rooms sleeping two adults must be no smaller than 10.22m²;
  • Rooms slept in by children aged 10 or younger must be no smaller than 4.64m².

Where minimum space standards are not being met, landlords will be given 18 months to put things right. They must also provide appropriate bins to store and dispose of household waste from the property.

Converted blocks of flats that fall within the definition of HMO will not be subject to mandatory licensing. However, they will if there are any facilities, such as kitchens and bathrooms, which are shared or not fully self-contained.

Visit our Request A Safety Inspection For HMO page to request an inspection.

Fire risk assessment

All licensed HMOs must have a fire risk assessment.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005  requires the ‘responsible person’, who could be the landlord/licence holder or an agent with full management control, to carry out and regularly review a fire risk assessment. This is enforced by the Fire and Rescue Authority.

The fire risk assessment must be ‘suitable and sufficient’, and assistance from an appropriately competent person should be sought as necessary to achieve this. A regular review must be undertaken. There is no legal definition of regular however we advise at least once a year, or change of tenancy if this occurs sooner than once a year. You do not need to re-write the risk assessment each year. You can make a note on the assessment of the date of the review and if any action is required or not, and where action is required then to make a note when completed.

Important information

We request a copy of your fire risk assessment as part of the licence application process.  Our acceptance of your fire risk assessment does not protect you from any action required by the Fire and Rescue Authority (the enforcing authority for Fire Risk Assessments). Should the Fire and Rescue Authority carry out an audit of your risk assessment, you could be asked to undertake further work or be subject to enforcement action.

If you’re thinking of employing someone to carry out a risk assessment for you, you should ensure they are competent to do so. Please see advice on this from the Nation Fire Chief's Council.

HMO Public Register

The Public Register of Houses of Multiple Occupation is currently licensed by Ashford Borough Council. View our Licences Issued page.