Houses in multiple occupation HMO

Penalties and exemptions

Temporary exemption from licensing

If a landlord or person in control of a property intends to stop operating an HMO, or reduces the numbers of occupants and can give clear evidence, then he or she can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice.

This lasts for a maximum of three months and ensures that a property in the process of being converted from an HMO does not need to be licensed. If the situation is not resolved then a second Temporary Exemption Notice can be issued.

When this runs out the property must be licensed, become subject to an Interim Management Order, or cease to be an HMO.

Are there any other penalties?

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

  • fails to apply for a licence for a licensable property or
  • allows a property to be occupied by more people than are permitted the licence

A fine of up to £20,000 may be imposed. In addition, breaking any of licence conditions can result in fines of up to £5,000 for each offence.

Can the tenant claim back rent on an unlicensed property?

Yes. A tenant living in a property that should have been licensed, but was not, can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal to claim back any rent the have paid during the unlicensed period (up to a limit of 12 months). The Council can also reclaim any housing benefit that has been paid during the time the property was without a licence.

Last updated: 27 October 2021