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, and will need to check the property has the correct planning permission to be used as a HMO. From 20 September 2017 any property being converted to a HMO must comply with the Article 4 Direction: relating to House in Multiple Occupation.

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 for example kitchen provisions, number of toilets and bathrooms these are detailed in our Prescribed Amenity Standards.

A landlord is responsible to ensure his property is safe for the occupants and must carry out a risk assessment.

We carry out safety inspections on HMOs 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 an unlimited fine or the we may issue a financial penalty of up to £30,000. In addition, you may be ordered to repay up to 12 months rent and any Housing Benefit paid during that period.

In addition, anyone failing to comply with licence conditions commits an offence punishable on summary conviction to an unlimited fine per offence. A Civil Penalty Notice of up to £30,000 is an alternative sanction available to the local authority.

Licence conditions

Properties that require a licence 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

 Applications must include:

  • Application form, signed and dated, together with the correct fee
  • A plan of the property showing
    • room numbers
    • room dimensions
    • automatic fire detection
    • fire doors
    • emergency lighting
  • A landlord's gas safety certificate - issued within the last 12 months
  • Electrical installation certificate - issued within the last 5 years
  • Automatic fire detection certificate - 

Three or more storeys HMO – “Grade A” Automated Fire Detection System (with control panel)

Provide a fire inspection certificate, dated within the previous 6 months.  Automatic fire detection systems should be inspected and serviced at least every 6 months in line with BS 5839-6. Inspection and servicing of a Grade A System must be carried out by a competent person, which will normally be a specialist fire alarm servicing engineer and should be third party certified, for example UKAS – accredited certification body.

Two storey or less HMO – “Grade D” Alarm systems

  • On HMO licence application / renewal you will be asked to provide a fire inspection certificate issued by a competent person, which will normally be a specialist fire alarm servicing engineer. This is to demonstrate that at the time of issuing the licence the fire detection system is working correctly.
  • Emergency lighting certificate (where provided) - issued within the last 12 months
  • Statement of compliance with Furniture (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 - complete section 12 of the online application or provide a signed written statement.
  • Tenancy agreement
  • Fire safety risk assessment
  • Any 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
  • breaches any conditions attached to the licence

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 aim to determine your application within 90 days.
    Please note - we are expecting a large number of new applications prior to the introduction of extended licensing in October 2018. As a result there may be some delay in the time taken to determine applications.

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 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.




Landlord annual fire alarm check for Grade D (2-storey or less HMO)


New HMO application

Make a change a HMO licence

Renew a HMO licence

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