Mandatory HMO licensing scheme came into force on 1 October 2018.

Under the new arrangements, all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) occupied by five or more people now need to be licensed.

The definition of an HMO as set out in Housing Act 2004 is complex and you should seek advice if you are unsure as to whether your property meets one of the ‘Tests’. It is your responsibility to know the status of your property.

Larger HMOs, with a greater risk to the occupiers’ health and safety, must be licensed. Some other HMOs may also need to be licensed. You should familiarise yourself with the Housing Act 2004 or seek appropriate advice to make sure that you meet your obligation to hold any necessary licence.

It is a criminal offence to be managing or in control of a House in Multiple Occupation that should be licensed but is not.

The definition of a HMO varies for different departments. You can find out more information about when property is classed as a HMO for council tax on our landlord information page. 

Mandatory HMO licensing scheme came into force on 1 October 2018

New regulations have been published that expanded the mandatory HMO licensing scheme across England since 1 October 2018. The licensing scheme was previously restricted to properties that comprised three or more storeys. 

These changes mean you will need a mandatory HMO licence if your property:

  • Contains five or more people in two or more households; and
  • Contains shared/lacks facilities such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.

Full details of the licensing reforms guidance:

  Download houses in multiple occupation and residential property licensing reform Opens in a new window

There are also some mandatory regulation changes around room sizes and waste collection.

The Licence holder shall comply with the Council’s scheme which relates to the storage and disposal of household waste.

These minimum room sizes do not alter our own acceptable minimum room sizes if they are higher. Our minimum acceptable room sizes are contained in the Devon Amenity Standards with details of how to apply for, renew or change a licence on

House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Standards
These standards have been designed to assist landlords and developers to improve and maintain HMOs to a reasonable standard.

Statutory Exemptions

The government have decided to exclude purpose built flats within a block comprising three or more self-contained flats. The Housing Act 2004 and associated regulations list certain exemptions from HMO licensing, a full list of can be read here

Failure to apply for a licence may result in the landlord and letting agent being prosecuted and given a hefty fine. Alternatively, the council can issue a civil penalty notice of up to £30,000 for not having the correct licence.


  Apply for a HMO licence Opens in a new window


See our licence fees page for details of costs. Note, higher fee’s will be imposed on landlords submitting late applications.