House in multiple occupation - licence

If you rent out a house in multiple occupation (HMO) in Stevenage, you may require a licence from Stevenage Borough Council.

Even if an HMO does not require a property licence it may still need fire precaution works carried out and the provision of extra amenities.  A landlord is responsible to ensure his property is safe for the occupants and must carry out a risk assessment.

The Council carries out safety inspections on houses in multiple occupation to ensure that they are safe, fit to live in and meet the legislative standards.

If you are found running an unlicensed HMO, you could face a fine of up to £20,000.

In addition, breaking any of the licence conditions can result in fines of up to £5,000.

Licence conditions

Properties that require a licence are:

  • three or more storeys high (including attics, basements and business premises where these are above or below the living accommodation); and
  • have five or more occupants who form more than one household

You will not need a licence if the property is:

  • managed by a registered social landlord
  • managed by a health service body
  • occupied by the owner and their family with no more than two lodgers
  • a property occupied by two people who are not of the same household
  • is less than three storeys high

Applications must include:

  • a plan of the property
  • a landlord's gas safety certificate
  • relevant planning and building control documents

To grant a licence we must be satisfied that:

  1. the property is suitable for occupation by the number of people on the application
  2. the property has adequate facilities for the number of people on application
  3. the property management is satisfactory
  4. the proposed licence holder should be a fit and proper person.  To determine this we will look at whether the applicant has:
    • any convictions relating to violence, sex offences, fraud or drugs
    • any offences relating to housing legislation
    • any offences relating to discrimination 

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

  • fails to apply for a licence for a licensable HMO
  • allows a property to be occupied by more people than is permitted under the licence

If you are found running an unlicensed HMO, you could face a fine of up to £20,000.

In addition, breaking any of the licence conditions can result in fines of up to £5,000.

A tenant living in an unlicensed property that should have a licence can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal for a rent repayment order to claim back any rent that they have paid while the property was unlicensed (maximum 12 months).  We can also reclaim any Housing Benefit paid on behalf of a tenant during that period.

Temporary Exemption Notice

If you do not intend to run the property as a licensable HMO and are taking action to reduce the number of people in occupation you can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice.

This will allow you up to three months to take appropriate action to reduce the number of occupants or to return the property to single occupation.  In exceptional circumstances a second three–month Temporary Exemption Notice may be given.

If at the end of the Temporary Exemption Notice period the property is still licensable, you will need to apply for a licence immediately to avoid prosecution for running an unlicensed HMO.

Licence fees and charges

Use the link below to view a copy of our current fees and charges

How to apply

Tacit Consent does not apply to this licence. It is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted.

Service standards

  • We will acknowledge receipt of your application within 4 working days
  • We will determine your application within 90 days

If you have not heard from us within our service standards, please contact us.

Application evaluation process

Licences will be granted if:

  • the house is or can be made suitable for multiple occupation
  • the applicant is a fit and proper person and the most appropriate person to hold the licence
  • the proposed manager has control of the house, and is a fit and proper person to be the manager
  • the management arrangements are satisfactory

There may be conditions attached to the licence, for example:

  • requirement for the provision of a Gas Safety Certificate (if not submitted with the application)
  • evidence that the electrical appliances and furnishings are in a safe condition
  • evidence that the property has an adequate means of escape for the number of occupants
  • requirement for the provision of more amenities for the number of occupants

If we grant a licence we will confirm how many people the property has been licensed for, and a timescale will be set for the conditions to be met

Additional information on requirements


Occasionally we may refuse a licence but this would be in exceptional circumstances and we will explain the reasons for the refusal.  If you disagree with the decision, please contact us in the first instance.

You may appeal to a residential property tribunal regarding conditions attached to a licence or any decision to vary or to revoke a licence that has been granted.

Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made.





Apply to licence a house in multiple occupation (via Business Link)

Apply to change a licence for a house in multiple occupation (via Business Link)

Apply to renew a licence for a house in multiple occupation (via Business Link)

Request a paper application form

Useful links

Residential Property Tribunal

Stevenage Borough Council is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Related pages

Homes in multiple occupation - safety inspections


Environmental Health & Licensing
Stevenage Borough Council
Daneshill House
01438 242908/242916