Houses in multiple occupation
All Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in the borough are required to be licensed, unless they fall within certain exempted categories
A failure to license an address is a criminal offence and the Council may take prosecution proceedings or impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000
On conviction, the Court may impose an unlimited fine. You could also have control of your unlicensed properties taken away from you, and be ordered to repay up to 12 months’ rent to the Council or your tenants.
How to apply for a HMO licence
Download the form:
Complete the form, sign it, and return by email
Once a complete application has been received we will contact you to arrange a full inspection of the property.
If full access is not provided at this inspection you will be liable to an additional fee for a revisit.
A second fee will be due at the inspection to be paid if the inspecting officer confirms that an HMO licence can be issued. The licence cannot be issued without this fee.
House in multiple occupation (HMO) definition
An HMO is a shared house, one that is occupied by people who do not form a single household. Examples include:
- a house let as individual bed sitting rooms
- a group of rooms on each floor let to single occupants
- hostels, some hotels, guesthouses
- lodgings, and shared houses
- houses converted into self-contained flats.
Mandatory HMO Licences
An HMO needs a Mandatory Licence when:
- it has 3 or more storeys (please see here for definition of a storey).
- these storeys are occupied by 5 or more persons, forming two or more households
- those persons live as two or more households.
From 1 October 2018 HMOs occupied by 5 or more people will need to be licensed throughout England not just those with three or more storeys. A valid application must submitted by 1 October 2018, to be compliant with this new law.
While licensing will extend to most HMOs occupied by five or more people, multi-occupied purpose built flats in blocks are exempt. As an example, a tenth floor flat occupied by 5 or more friends will not need a mandatory HMO licence. If the same people lived in a ground floor flat in a converted building, a licence would be required.
Help with your HMO Licence Application
There is an HMO licence application drop-off service from 2pm to 4.30 pm, on the second Thursday of every month, excluding bank or other public holidays.
You can book an appointment by emailing email@example.com or by calling 020 8359 5355. Alternatively you can just drop-in, the sessions are held at Barnet House, N20 0EJ.
Please note that we are unable to answer any planning queries. For information on making planning applications and times of planning drop in's please see the 'Planning Applications: guide on how to comment' page.
Exemptions to licensing
The Housing Act 2004 specifies properties which are not HMOs for the purpose of the Act. Examples of properties where under certain circumstances no licence will be required under the proposed scheme are given at the end of this guide which you can read here.
Where an HMO does not have a licence, the Council may serve a Temporary Exemption Notice (TEN) when either the person having control of or managing a licensable HMO informs the Council that they intend to take particular steps to ensure that the property is no longer required to be licensed. Where a TEN is served, the property will not require a licence during the period for which the notice is in force.
How to apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice (TEN)
Check if an HMO has a licence
Report a HMO
If you know of a HMO which is licensable but has not been licensed, please report it by emailing the property address
Council tax in Houses in Multiple Occupation
The landlord is responsible for paying council tax in an HMO in most cases.
When tenants have to pay
If tenants have a licence to occupy the entire dwelling and are jointly and severally liable to pay rent for the dwelling as a whole (usually by being on a single tenancy agreement), it is no longer an HMO by the council tax definition and the council tax liability falls to the tenants jointly and severally.
Households where everyone is a full time student, do not have to pay council tax but if you do receive a bill, you can apply to the council for an exemption. Where only some of the household are full-time students, you may qualify for a discount.
Discounts and exemptions
You’ll usually have to pay council tax if you’re 18 or over rent a home but there are exemptions and discounts
HMO Licensing and Planning Permission
There is a difference between the law concerning HMO licensing and planning law as it applies to HMOs. Both set out to achieve different aims.
Whilst licensing law is there primarily to protect the health, safety and welfare of the occupants of an HMO, planning legislation is intended to control the use of property in the wider public interest.
Having an HMO licence does not mean that planning permission is not required. Likewise having planning permission to use a property as an HMO does not mean that an HMO licence is not required.
Before considering converting a property to an HMO you should first confirm whether planning permission is required.
For further information on this, please visit the planning service web page.
- HMO Licensing Team
- Environmental Health
- London Borough of Barnet
- 2 Bristol Avenue, London NW9 4EW
- Tel: 020 8359 5355
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fit and Proper Persons Policy 2016 (PDF 0.23 MB)
Fire Guidance in HMOs - updated 2016 (PDF 0.11 MB)
HMO standards 2016 (PDF 0.44 MB)
Landlord's HMO Handbook (PDF 0.60 MB)
Application for a temporary exemption notice (PDF 0.20 MB)
HMO Definitions of terms (PDF 0.34 MB)