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Houses In Multiple Occupation

The local authority's requirements in respect of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) are complex and dependant upon the precise nature of the property in question and the way in which it is occupied. Accordingly, definitive details of what is needed to ensure the health and safety of the occupants can only be determined by an inspection.

Applying to Licence a HMO

From the 1 October 2018, 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 a property which was over three or more floors, so the main change has been the removal of the number of storeys from the HMO definition.  Single and two storey properties must now be licensed, if they fall within this remit, including properties converted into bedsits.  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, upon conviction, for the owners of licensable HMOs who continue to operate without a licence.

From the 1st of April 2019 there will be only one set fee for HMO licensing irrespective of renewing a licence or subsequent properties to be licensed. The new charge for an HMO licence is £563.71.

Any queries concerning HMOs generally and licensing in particular should be directed to Julian Watts, Senior Environmental Health Officer, Private Sector Housing on 01233 330339 or email julian.watts@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. The resultant improved regime is contained within 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, where there is a degree of sharing of facilities, for example for cooking, or where the housing lacks such facilities, or is not self-contained.

From the 1st October 2018, new legislation has introduced 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 unless there are any facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms which are shared or not fully self-contained. View the rules on HMOs.

If you would like to request a safety inspection for an HMO, you can do so on the Request A Safety Inspection For HMO page.

The Public Register of Houses of Multiple Occupation is currently licensed by Ashford Borough Council. View the HMO Public Register [xls] 54KB.

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