HMO licences

The Housing Act 2004 defines houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). HMOs include house and flat shares, student homes, bedsits and some buildings converted into flats. For properties that contain occupiers that form 2 or more households and share amenities such as kitchen, bathroom, living area and any communal space require a HMO licence. The tenancy agreement is not relevant in determining if a house is HMO, nor is the number of storeys.

An HMO requires a licence and a landlord commits an offence by letting a HMO without a licence. 

What is a HMO? (PDF)

Landlords must hold either a mandatory or additional licence if they are operating an HMO in Camden. 

Mandatory licensing: 

The definition of a mandatory licensable HMO changed on 1 October 2018. The requirement applies to most properties occupied by 5 or more people forming 2 or more households, regardless of the number of storeys. 

The only exemption is for HMOs which are flats located in purpose built blocks containing 3 or more flats. 

Please note: If you have a HMO that meets this criteria and you already hold an additional HMO licence you do not need to do anything until that licence expires. Upon renewal, you will need to re-apply for a mandatory licence.

Additional licensing 

This is a local scheme to Camden which came into force on 8 December 2015. 

Additional licensing applies to other HMOs not covered by mandatory licensing. It applies to any property occupied by 3 or more people forming 2 or more households. 
It also applies to buildings converted into self-contained flats that do not meet the standards of the Building Regulations 1991 (or later) and 50 percent or more of the building is rented.

Properties that require a HMO licence (PDF)

It is an offence to operate a licensable HMO without a licence. 

Please note: Applications received for properties with no tenants may be returned. This is because the Housing Act 2004 makes it clear that a house cannot be a HMO (and therefore licensable) until it is occupied by persons as their residence. For this reason, an application should be made as soon as a property is rented out as a licensable HMO


Apply for a HMO licence

Please read the following documents before you apply. They explain what information and documentation you must submit with your application.

Apply for a HMO licence

The application will take around 45 minutes to complete.

After you’ve applied

What happens next? (PDF)

Once granted, a licence will normally last for 5 years.

NB: An HMO licence sits with the current landlord and cannot be transferred to another person. If the property is sold or the landlord changes the council must be informed. The new landlord -or most appropriate person must apply for a new licence.

Help with your application

If you need help filling in the form, book an appointment to come and see us by calling 020 7974 5969. We are based at 5 Pancras Square library.

Reclaiming tenant rent

It is a criminal offence for a landlord to manage or control a house in multiple occupation without a licence under Housing Act 2004.

The council can reclaim up to 12 months of housing benefit or universal credit which has been paid to the landlord during the period the property was unlicensed. 

Private tenants can reclaim up to 12 months of rent if they can prove the landlord has committed or been convicted of an offence outlined below:

  • your landlord has rented a HMO without a licence
  • you have been illegally evicted or harassed by your landlord
  • your landlord has used violence to secure entry to a property
  • your landlord has failed to comply with enforcement action

Your landlord has no right to make you leave your home because you are applying for a Rent Repayment Order. 

Guidance on reclaiming rent (PDF)

Enforcement on HMOs

It is the responsibility of the landlord or managing agent to apply to the council for an HMO licence. 

It is a criminal offence to operate a licensable HMO without a licence in Camden.  

Failure to obtain a HMO licence and breaches of HMO regulations that ensure the property is safe and in good condition can carry a fixed penalty notice up to £30,000 or an unlimited fine upon prosecution. 

Failure to comply with the requirements of a HMO licence can carry a £30,000 fixed penalty notice or unlimited fine upon prosecution. 

Advice for tenants living in an unlicensed HMO (PDF) 

Private Sector Housing enforcement policy (PDF)

Contact Us

Landlords/Managing Agents

If you have any questions regarding houses in multiple occupation please fill in our enquiry form or call 020 7974 4444.

contact for landlords/managing agents

Tenants living in the private rented sector

If you are living in a property that you think requires a House in Multiple Occupation licence please fill in the enquiry form below or call 020 7974 4444.

contact for tenants

Neighbouring Borough consultations

The London Borough of Brent is currently carrying out a consultation on their new licensing proposals which include an extension of their current scheme. They are proposing to license all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and all other privately rented properties within designated wards.

Find out more details of their scheme and the link to the consultation here. Please note their consultation ends on Sunday 25 August 2019.

Subject to Cabinet approval, Camden is proposing to carry out a similar consultation later in the year, when we look to renew our current borough wide HMO licensing scheme. HMOs include house and flat shares, student homes, bedsits and some buildings converted into flats.


Landlords need a licence to let image