Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) can offer good quality affordable accommodation to people who cannot afford to buy their own homes and are not eligible for council housing.

Additional HMO licensing

On 8 September 2021 the London Borough of Lambeth made the decision to introduce additional HMO licensing.

This borough-wide scheme will apply to any property occupied by three or more individuals that is not captured by mandatory HMO licensing.

This includes multiple-occupied flats in purpose-built blocks containing more than two flats, and where the flat is occupied by three or more persons.

It also includes any building converted into self-contained flats that may also be a HMO if all the following are true:

  • the conversion did not comply with the 1991 Building Regulations standards and still does not comply with them
  • less than two thirds are owner occupied.

The scheme will come into force on Thursday 9 December 2021 when applications for the additional licensing can be made online.

Housing Act 2004 Section 257 and HMOs

Buildings converted entirely into self-contained flats that do not conform to the 1991 Building Regulations, may require licensing if less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied. The freeholder of this type of building will be responsible for the licensing of common parts (and in instances flats). Please read the government legislation on Section 257.

Self-contained flats within converted buildings may require licensing if they are being occupied as flats in multiple occupation (three or more occupiers, forming two or more households and sharing facilities - e.g. kitchen, WC, bath/shower room). There are some exemptions to this. Should any self-contained flat meet the criteria to be licensed, the owner/landlord will be responsible for licensing the flat.

Fees

There is a fee of £506 per habitable room within an HMO (or per self-contained flat in the converted building for Section 257 applications) for up to a maximum of five years.

A habitable room is defined as a room used for sleeping. A dining or living room (or similar), will not be counted as a habitable room for the purpose of the licensing fee and cannot be used as sleeping accommodation.

The licence fee will be split into two parts for payment:

  • The fee covering the up-front processing costs is payable when the application is made (two-thirds).
  • The remainder of the fee is made on approval of the licence.

HMO licence renewals will be charged at an approximate rate of 62.28%

Discount eligibility

There is a 50% discount for charity organisations.

There is a 20% discount for landlords or agents who have current membership with a recognised accreditation scheme or are members of a recognised professional body.

Examples of organisations that would attract the membership/accreditation discount:

  • London Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LLAS)
  • National Landlords Association (NLA)
  • Southern Landlords Association (SLA)
  • Residential Landlords Association (RLA)
  • The Guild of Residential Landlords
  • Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)
  • National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS)
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA)
  • UK Landlord Accreditation Partnership (UKLAP)
  • British Landlords Association (BLA)

Should the licence holder believe they have an appropriate membership/accreditation which is not listed, they will have the opportunity to submit a case to be included.

Please note: The discount will be valid only when the accredited landlord or agent acts as the licence holder. Discounts cannot be combined.

Exemptions from additional HMO licensing

Exemptions are made for properties:

  • managed by a college or university
  • managed by registered providers
  • occupied entirely by owner occupiers and their family
  • occupied by a resident landlord and up to (and including) two non-familial lodgers
  • used solely as a holiday let
  • let under the London Borough of Lambeth social lettings scheme
  • which have no tenants, or will not be let
  • occupied by one household (single household)

See legislative information on exemptions.

Single household defined

A single household is defined as members of the same family living together. This can include:

  • couples married to each other or living together as husband and wife (or in an equivalent relationship in the case of persons of the same sex)
  • relatives living together, including parents, grandparents, children (and stepchildren), grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins
  • half-relatives will be treated as full relatives. A foster child living with his foster parent is treated as living in the same household as his foster parent.
  • single persons

Please note: A group on one tenancy agreement does not necessarily mean that it is a single household

Applying online and documents you may need

To process an additional HMO licence application, the following documents may be requested:

  • Gas safety certificate
  • Automatic fire detection certificate
  • Accreditation membership
  • Emergency lighting certificate
  • Floor plan
  • Tenancy/Management agreement(s)
  • PAT testing
  • Electrical installation condition report (or equivalent)
  • Fire risk assessment
  • Land registry title (dated within 28 days of application)
  • Property insurance
  • Asbestos survey

The list is not exhaustive, and it is possible that specific additional documentation might be needed (e.g. if there is a misting/sprinkler system documentation for this will be requested).

To apply for the additional HMO licence, visit our renew or apply for a HMO page.

If you encounter any technical problems with your online application, please contact HMOLicensing@lambeth.gov.uk.

Consequences of failing to licence a HMO

Upon the designation coming into force, a person commits an offence and will be liable to prosecution if they are the person having control of or managing a HMO which is required to be licensed under this additional licensing designation, but is not licensed.

On conviction, a court may impose an unlimited fine.

The council may, as an alternative to prosecution, impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000.

The tenant(s) and/or the council may also apply to the First-Tier Tribunal (Residential Tribunal) for a rent repayment order. No Housing Act 1988 Section 21 notice (recovery of possession on termination of shorthold tenancy) may be given in relation to a shorthold tenancy of a part of an unlicensed HMO so long as it remains such a HMO. The council may also make an Interim Management Order, whereby the council would take management control of the unlicensed HMO.

Contact us          

If you are a landlord, managing agent or a tenant and wish to enquire whether your property is affected by the additional licensing designation, please contact us by email at HMOLicensing@lambeth.gov.uk or by post at:

Public Protection
Assurance and Regulatory Services
HMO Licensing Team
PO Box 734
Winchester
SO23 5DG.

The scheme was approved by the council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, Councillor Maria Kay and the decision report can be viewed at additional licensing of HMOs and associated policies

See the public notice for introducing the extension to HMO licensing (PDF 454KB).