Houses of Multiple Occupation


Important Changes to the Law

From 1 October 2018, the legislation regarding the mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) will change.

The storey-height criteria will be removed. This means ANY HMO that is occupied by five or more persons who form two or more separate households, and who share basic amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet, will require a license, regardless of the number of storeys. These properties must have a licence to operate. Landlords must apply for a licence before 1 October 2018. It is an offence to operate such a property without a licence or fail to comply with any conditions.


An HMO is:

  • An entire house or flat which is let to 3 or more tenants who form 2 or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
  • A house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and fit the above criteria.
  • A converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self-contained and is occupied by 3 or more tenants forming 2 or more households.
  • A building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and more than 1/3 of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.
  • The property must be the tenants’ only or main residence and should be used solely or mainly to house tenants. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence, and the same will apply to properties which are used as domestic refuges. 

For more information, see the HMO government information.


HMO Licensing

If you own a property which meets all of the following criteria, you need a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licence:

  • The property is rented out and
  • There are 5 or more occupants from 2 or more households, and
  • The tenants share cooking, bathroom or toilet facilities.

The licenses are issued in order to raise and maintain the minimum standards of accommodation and management of these properties. They are mandatory, and failure to obtain the correct licence is a criminal offence, which may result in prosecution with unlimited fines. The licenses are valid for up to 5 years, the fees are laid out below.

The definition of a property type for fire safety and facilities purposes is based on the mode of occupation. The fee structure is the same for all modes of occupation but the type of property as identified ultimately by the case officer based on documentation submitted, occupation and from the property inspection, will determine what Fire Safety measures and, in some cases, what additional facilities are required.

Please ensure you correctly identify the type of property you are proposing to licence to ensure that there are no hold-ups to the licensing process. Incorrect identification may lead to delays in issuing a licence as well as additional time and cost due to the Local Authority requiring additional items to be installed to comply with the Council’s and National Standards and Fire Safety guidance.

Shared houses

This is for properties where each occupant has their own bedroom but there is a communal kitchen for use by the occupants and no cooking facilities within the room. Bathrooms and/or WCs would generally be in a communal area and shared with other residents. There may also be a shared lounge or dining room. For the purposes of the license, shared houses are described as HMOs where the whole property has been rented out by an identifiable group of sharers such as students at the same University or work colleagues as joint occupants where their employer rents the property on their behalf as part of their work contract. There is a single joint tenancy agreement inclusive of all the occupants named individually on the agreement. This would not include “head tenancies” or “Company lets” where the company is not the occupants’ employer.

Bedsit-type Shared houses and Bedsits

A bedsit-type shared house or bedsit is typically a room with facilities for sleeping, eating, cooking and the storage of food within it, but alternatively there may be shared cooking facilities or a mixture of the two. It may also contain personal washing facilities (wash hand basin and/or shower) but will generally involve shared bathroom/WC with other residents. Each bedsit or letting will be let to separate individuals who will live independently, with little or no communal living between tenants. Each letting will have its own individual tenancy agreement. This would include “head tenancies” or “Company lets” where the company is not the occupant’s employer.

In all cases the number of people who can occupy a property and individual room will be dictated by the number of shared and individual facilities, size of bedrooms and size of shared communal rooms such as lounges and dining rooms. Room size requirements are detailed within Arun District Council’s HMO Standards Document.

The fee structure is based on the number of occupants regardless of property type (i.e. Shared houses, bedsit-type shared houses or bedsits) with a base fee for five-person occupancy and then an additional fee per person above five.

(If there is a fully self-contained let within the house (all amenities are within the letting for exclusive use by that room) no fee is payable for that let). 

The licence fee is split into two parts:

Part 1. Application Fee payable upon submission of the application. (Note that this fee is non-refundable whether a licence is successfully granted or not or if the applicant withdraws the application subsequent to submission).

Part 2. Issue Fee payable upon the successful completion of the Consultation Period and prior to the full HMO Licence being granted. This fee must be paid prior to the Licence being granted and issued and failure to pay it will result in the Licence not being issued and leaving the property unlicensed. Unlicensed properties are liable to legal enforcement action.

Please note that if a payment is made for the incorrect number of people or upon inspection it is found that the number of occupants that can be accommodated is fewer than the number applied for no refund will be payable. It is your responsibility to ensure that the property conforms to Arun District Council’s HMO Standards and does not exceed the maximum number of allowable occupants.


Part 1 Initial Application 5-person base fee- Payable at time of application: £812

Part 1 Each additional occupant – Payable at time of application: £50 per person

Part 2 Licence Issue Fee - Payable prior to the Full Licence being issued: £214


More information

If you believe your property requires an HMO licence, please download and complete this  Mandatory HMO License Application Form Feb 2019.docx [docx] 115KB . It must be returned to us with the appropriate fee before we can action the request. If you would like any more advice or you are still unsure whether you require a licence, please contact us on 01903 737755 or email

All properties must meet the required standards for houses in multiple occupation which are detailed in the Council’s  HMO Standards March 2019.pdf [pdf] 1MB . If you have any queries regarding minimum standards or HMOs please contact the Council on 01903 737755

If the property is found not to require a licence during the application process, the fee will be refunded. The fee is not refundable, however, once a licence has been issued (e.g. if a property is converted to single occupation during the licence period). Fees will be reviewed from time to time to ensure they reflect the full cost of administering the licensing arrangements. Cheques must be made payable to Arun District Council.

Properties already licensed with Arun can be viewed on the public register.