Houses in multiple occupation

What is a HMO?

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is any building or part of a building such as a house, flat, maisonette, bungalow etc that is occupied by people who do not live as a single household (such as people in a family relationship) and where they share (or lack) one or more basic amenities, such as a toilet, or personal washing and cooking facilities. Bed-sit accommodation and houses or flats occupied by sharers where there is no family relationship are examples of HMOs.

A HMO can also be a house or building that has been converted into self-contained flats, if the conversion was below the standards set by the Building Regulations 1991 and at least one third of the flats are tenanted. A purpose-built block of flats is not an HMO, however, an individual flat within it might be if it is let to four or more tenants. Another example is a converted building where there is a mix of self-contained and non self-contained accommodation. HMOs that consist solely of self-contained units are exempt from mandatory licensing. The council has not included these properties in the 2010 additional licensing scheme.

What is a household?

People are to be regarded as not forming a single household unless they are all members of the same family. Members of the same family include:

  • married couples or cohabitees who live together as husband and wife
  • same-sex couples who are in an equivalent relationship
  • parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and cousins
  • half-blood relationships, for example, half-brother or half-sister, are treated as full-blood relationships
  • stepchildren are treated as children
  • a person is also a relative of another person if one of them is a relative of one member of a couple and the other is a relative of another member of the couple

Report a HMO

If you suspect that a property in the borough is occupied by three or more unrelated people who share amenities, please report a HMO online or email HMOTeam@ealing.gov.uk Although we carry out extensive surveillance work, there are inevitably some premises which go unidentified and information from the general public is invaluable to supplement our work.

HMO licensing

On 6 April 2006 HMO licensing was introduced under the provisions of the Housing Act 2004. This replaced the council's existing registration scheme. All local authorities must licence properties that are at least three or more storeys high, with five or more persons, who form two or more households. This is known as mandatory licensing. 

Provision has also been made for discretionary licensing where local authorities can extend the licensing system to include other HMOs. This is known as additional licensing. A new additional licensing scheme has been approved by the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) and started on 19 April 2010. Details of this can be found in the public legal notice (word).

Details of licensed HMOs can be found at Register of HMO licences

Additional licensing of HMOs

The additional licensing scheme covers HMOs (within the six wards shown below) occupied by four or more people who share amenities. With additional licensing we can specify the maximum number of people who can occupy the house, and attach conditions relating to the management of the building, as well as making sure amenities are kept up to standard.

The additional licensing scheme started on 19 April 2010, but only applies to certain types of HMOs in six designated wards map (jpg):

  • Southall Green
  • Southall Broadway
  • Greenford Broadway
  • East Acton
  • Acton Central
  • South Acton

It applies to all HMOs which satisfy the following conditions:

  • The HMO, or any part of it, comprises two or more storeys
  • It is occupied by four or more people
  • It is occupied by people living in two or more households

If you own or manage a HMO which falls under the additional or mandatory licensing scheme, you must complete and return an HMO licensing application form. The licence is valid for five years and costs £994, plus £30 for each habitable room.  There is a £75 discount on the HMO licence fee for accredited landlords (see London Landlord Accreditation Scheme below).

If you require general advice contact:

London Borough of Ealing
Regulatory Services, Perceval House, 14–16 Uxbridge Road, Ealing, London W5 2HL
Tel: (020) 8825 6622
Email: privatehousing@ealing.gov.uk

How to apply for a licence

There are two ways to apply:

Landlords will be required to pay a licence fee. The current fee is £994 plus an additional £30 for each habitable room.  All rooms that can be used as living or bedrooms are counted as a habitable room. Bathrooms, toilets and kitchens are not counted. A £75 discount will be made available to landlords who have been accredited or belong to a recognised landlord association. A licence will usually be issued for a five-year period, but in exceptional circumstances they can be issued for a reduced period. 

Applications should be sent to:

HMO Team, Private Sector Housing, Regulatory Services, Perceval House,
14-16 Uxbridge Road, Ealing, London W5 2HL

Refunds

We will give you a refund if:

  • you have made a duplicate application
  • you made an application for an exempted property by mistake.

We will not give you a refund if:

  • we refuse your application
  • you withdraw your application.

Things we must consider before we can grant a licence

  • the house must be reasonably suitable for the number of occupants and must comply with the standards in respect of bathroom, toilet and kitchen facilities (word) and the space standards (word)
  • the proposed licence holder or any proposed manager must be a fit and proper person. In assessing this we could consider any previous convictions in relation to violence, drugs, fraud, sexual offences, housing law etc
  • the proposed licence holder or proposed manager must also be the most 'appropriate person', for example, the owner of the property or his agent, or whoever is in receipt of rents and has control over the general management of the property
  • the proposed management arrangements must be satisfactory. For example, there must be procedures in place for general maintenance and repairs, and suitable funding arrangements

If we are not satisfied that some of the above matters have been fully met - such as sufficient provision of bathrooms or kitchens, or sufficient management arrangements - we can grant a licence which includes conditions that any failings must be put right within specified periods of time. The Housing Act 2004 sets out the conditions that must be met by the licence holder. These conditions require the licence holder to supply an annual gas safety certificate, ensure that electrical appliances and furniture are in a safe condition, that smoke alarms are installed, and to provide occupiers of the house with a written statement of terms under which they may occupy it. A licence cannot relate to more than one property and is not transferable.

Will the property need to be inspected before a licence can be granted?

We do not always have to inspect a property before we grant a licence. However, if we are not provided with all the relevant information - including details of the occupancy or of bathroom, toilet and kitchen amenities - it is likely that we will need to inspect the property before granting a licence. 

We are also placed under a statutory duty to satisfy ourselves as soon as reasonably practicable after an application for a licence has been made, that the HMO is free from any serious hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) (word).

What are the penalties for failing to licence your property?

Failure to obtain a licence and breach of licence conditions are criminal offences. You can be fined up to a maximum of £20,000 for failing to obtain a licence and £5,000 for a breach of a licence condition. Furthermore, in certain circumstances a landlord may be required to repay rent or housing benefits received while the HMO was unlicensed. The council also has powers to take control of a property where there is no prospect of it being licensed, to protect the safety, health and welfare of the occupiers or neighbours.

London Landlord Accreditation Scheme

The London Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LLAS) is a London wide scheme made up of various landlord organisations, university accommodation units and the 33 London boroughs.

The accreditation scheme aims to provide landlords with the necessary skills to run a successful business and can give access to many useful services and benefits. Here at Ealing we have a £75 discount on our HMO licence fee for accredited landlords. This accreditation scheme is different in that it accredits the landlord rather than individual properties.

In order to become accredited landlords need to attend a one day approved property management course.

We are currently running local courses at Ealing Council held in Perceval House, 14-16 Uxbridge Road, Ealing, London, W5 2HL. If you are interested in attending the course, please go to the following website and book your place onto the appropriate course: UK Landlord Accreditation Partnership website. If you have any problems with your booking you will need to contact the UKLAP coordinator Jessica Alomankeh on (020) 7974 1970 or via email: llas@camden.gov.uk .

Planning permission and other statutory requirements

Planning permission may be required in order to use a property as a HMO. HMO licensing does not grant exemption from the need to obtain planning permission. Further information and advice may be obtained from:

Planning and Surveying Services, Perceval House,14-16 Uxbridge Road,
Ealing, London W5 2HL
Tel: (020) 8825 6600
Email: planning@ealing.gov.uk

Further information

For more information, an application form, or to view the register, contact us:

Licensing Team, Regulatory Services, Perceval House, 14-16 Uxbridge Road,
Ealing, London W5 2HL
Tel: (020) 8825 6655
Email: licensing@ealing.gov.uk

Useful links

Communities and Local Government
Residential Property Tribunal Service