Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

The Housing Act 2004 introduced mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and a new definition of an HMO.

What is a HMO?

  • A dwelling will be an HMO if three or more unrelated people are sharing facilities
  • Buildings comprising non self contained flats are HMOs
  • Houses converted to self contained flats before 1991 and not in accordance with the 1991 Building Regulations will be HMOs
  • A self contained flat converted to 1991 Building Regulations or later if occupied by more than three unrelated persons will be an HMO.

Why are larger HMOs being licensed?

Larger HMOs, such as bedsits and shared houses, are often linked to poorer physical and management standards than other private rented property. The people who live in HMOs are amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society. As HMOs are the only housing option for many people, the government has recognised that it is vital that these properties are effectively regulated.

Do all HMOs need licensing?

In Allerdale there is one type of HMO that must be licensed. These are properties that are:

  • Three or more storeys high
  • Have five or more people in more than one household, and
  • Share amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities.

Penalties for operating without a licence

It is an offence if the landlord or person in control of the property;

  • Fails to apply for a licence for a licensable property
  • Allows a property to be occupied by more than are permitted under the licence.

A fine of up to £20,000 maybe imposed. In addition, contravening any of the licence conditions can result in fines of up to £5,000.

A tenant living in a property that should have been licensed, but was not, can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal (RPT) to claim back any rent they have paid during the unlicensed period.

Applying for a HMO licence

If you think have or live in a property that requires a licence, please contact Allerdale Borough Council Housing Services on 01900 702570 or email

Management of HMOs

If you are an owner or manager who is responsible for letting a HMO, specific management legislation may apply to you. If the property is a shared house please see the HMO Management for Shared Houses guidance note below. If the property has been converted into self contained flats, not in accordance with the 1991 Building Regulations, please see the HMO Management for Converted Flats guidance note below.

Landlord's Manual

The Landlord's Manual is a general guide giving landlords the basic information they need to manage rented accommodation. A copy can be downloaded from the downloadable documents section below.

Downloadable Documents

All documents open in a new window.
File nameSizeApproximate Download time
Adobe PDF format - download the viewerLicensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation in PDF format448 Kb1 min 4 secs @ 56k, 2 secs @ 2mb
Adobe PDF format - download the viewerDoes your landlord need a licence? in PDF format266 Kb38 secs @ 56k, 1 sec @ 2mb
Adobe PDF format - download the viewerHMO Management for Shared Houses in PDF format95 Kb14 secs @ 56k, 0 secs @ 2mb
Adobe PDF format - download the viewerHMO Management for Converted Flats in PDF format95 Kb14 secs @ 56k, 0 secs @ 2mb
Adobe PDF format - download the viewerLandlord Manual in PDF format549 Kb1 min 18 secs @ 56k, 2 secs @ 2mb

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0303 123 1702

Allerdale Borough Council
Allerdale House, Workington, Cumbria,
CA14 3YJ