Houses in multiple occupation
A licence is required for every house or flat which is the only or main home of three or more unrelated people or families. It is a criminal offence, with fines up to £50,000, to have a house in multiple occupation if it is not licensed.
The owner of the house is responsible for obtaining a licence even if the property is leased to or managed by another person or organisation. The need for a licence does not depend on rent being paid or formal tenancy arrangements being in place.
Flats or bedsits which are otherwise separate are considered part of one house if they share cooking, washing or toilet facilities. Resident landlords and members of their family living with them are not counted when calculating the number of occupants, so a licence is only need if three or more tenants live with the landlord.
Before granting a licence, the authority will make sure that acceptable standards are met in three categories:
- Fit and proper person - the landlord, and any agent managing the property, must be considered a fit and proper person to hold a licence. The local authority will decide this based on individual circumstances.
- Tenancy management - ensuring there are proper tenancy agreements which set out the rights and responsibilities of the tenants and the landlord. This should prevent exploitation or harassment of tenants, and should also help in taking action if tenants' behaviour causes any nuisance to neighbours.
- Physical conditions - including space, facilities for cooking and washing, and safety of the building.
The following types of property may be exempt from:
- Properties where all occupants (or at least one member of each family) are owners.
- Properties owned by communal groups, established as a co-operative housing association, the management of which is undertaken by general meeting.
- Properties occupied by members of a religious order.
- Accommodation provided as a registered service with the Care Commission as a care home service, an independent health care service, a school care accommodation service or a secure accommodation service.
Application forms and site notices
You can download the following documents: