Toggle menu

Licensing of HMOs

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

HMO Register

The Public Register of HMO licences issued is available in the Downloads section at the bottom of the page.

HMO licensing

From the 1st October 2018, the national mandatory HMO Licensing criteria 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 has been removed and the number of households living in the property and the number of people in those households determine whether a licence is required. Applications should be submitted immediately for properties meeting these criteria.

Properties meeting this criteria must have had a valid application submitted or already have a valid HMO Licence. Failure to have submitted a valid application for a HMO licence or have a valid HMO licence for operating a HMO 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. Further information can be found in the Private Sector Housing Policy Framework which should be read in conjunction with the latest Housing Act Notice Charges document. Both documents can be found in Downloads section at the bottom of the page.

A HMO licence will normally last for a maximum of five years, although it can be for a shorter period.

A guide to assist landlords in checking if their property needs an HMO Licence is available.

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

The fee for an HMO Licence application is currently £1004.80.

The public register of HMO Licences that have been issued is available to view.

If after reading this information you wish to report a potential HMO, you can use the online form.

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:

  • Committed any serious criminal offences;

  • Discriminated illegally against anyone;

  • Breached laws that relate to renting out property.

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.

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 the Private Sector Housing Policy Framework.

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:

  • Apply conditions to the licence;

  • Reduce the length of the licence and apply conditions to the granting of the licence;

  • Restrict the occupation of the property until conditions are met; 

  • Refuse to grant the licence

If you rent out a property which requires a license 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 housing standards team.