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Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

An HMO licence must be obtained for properties that meet the HMO Licensing criteria.

Until the 1st October 2018 an HMO licence is required for properties of three or more storeys occupied by five or more persons forming two or more households who share basic amenities (such as a kitchen or bathroom) as their main and only place of residence. Applications should be submitted immediately for properties meeting this criteria.
It is a criminal offence to operate a licensable HMO without a valid licence.

From the 1st October 2018, the NEW national mandatory HMO Licensing criteria will change which means that an HMO licence will be required for all properties occupied by five or more people forming two or more households who share basic amenities (such as a kitchen or bathroom) as their main and only place of residence. The 'storey' element is being removed and the number of households living in the property and the number of people in those households determine whether a licence is required.

From the 1st October 2018 properties meeting this new criteria must have had a valid application submitted or already have a valid HMO Licence. Failure to have applied by 1st October 2018 or hold a valid licence from 1st October 2018 is a criminal offence. Failing to comply with the law may result in the issue of a Civil Penalty by the Council or prosecution by the Council.  Civil penalties are limited to £30,000 per offence and HMO prosecutions carry unlimited fines.

Applications can be submitted at anytime prior to the 1st October 2018. The 5 year term of the licence will be from the date it is issued which will be on or after the 1st October.

A guide to assist landlords in checking if their property needs an HMO Licence is available to download - please see Related documents.

Note: A household can be a single person or certain members of the same family who live together. The Private Sector Housing team can provide guidance on what constitutes a family. For more details please see the Housing Act 2004, Section 258 in Useful links.

The fee for an HMO Licence application is currently £948.

Summary of requirements

The responsibility for applying for an HMO Licence for a property rests with the landlord. To apply for a licence the applicant and/or manager of the property must be a "fit and proper person". Boston Borough Council will determine whether the applicant is a fit and proper person by looking at whether they have:

In addition, the licence holder will be asked to provide a Basic Disclosure certificate. Further information on how to obtain this from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is available on the HMO licence portal (see below) and in Useful links.

Mandatory HMO Licences are valid for up to 5 years and will specify the number of occupiers permissible in the HMO.  Occupancy numbers will depend on the size of the rooms used for sleeping and the facilities available.

HMOs must meet certain standards to be licensed; these are set out in Schedule 4 of the Housing Act 2004 and subsequent amendments. The Act also allows a local authority to include additional conditions it considers appropriate.  All the standards and conditions that are required by Boston Borough Council can be found in Appendix A of the Private Sector Housing Policy Framework - see Related documents.

The licence holder is required to comply with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006, as amended, as well as any approved code of practice issued under Section 233 of the Housing Act 2004.

Where a property does not meet all of the requirements for a full licence, the Council may:

If you rent out a property which requires a licence but you intend to make the property one which no longer requires a licence, you must apply for a Temporary Exemption from Licensing which can last for a three-month period up to a maximum of six months. Please email the Private Sector Housing team - see Contact us.


Click on this link for the HMO licence application portal:  

How to apply for a HMO Licence, make a change or renew a licence.


Related documents

Size Name
[485kb] HMO and residential property licensing reform - guidance HMO licensing reform guidance
[1Mb] Private Sector Housing Policy Framework 2018 Private Sector Housing Policy Framework 2018
[3Mb] Delegation of Decisions - Authorisations for Private Sector Housing Delegation of decisions

The documents in this section are in Adobe Acrobat format (pdf). You will need Acrobat Reader to view these files which can be downloaded from the Adobe website free of charge.