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Houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

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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.  Any properties that contain three or more occupiers forming two or more households who share amenities such as kitchen, bathroom, living area and any communal space require an HMO licence. The tenancy agreement is not relevant in determining if a house is an HMO, nor is the number of storeys.

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

What is an HMO? (PDF)

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

Use the Greater London Authority's Property Licence Checker to find out if a property requires a HMO licence

Find out if a property already has a licence on Camden's register of licenced HMOs

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. However, all such flats in Camden must still be licensed under our Additional Licensing scheme. 

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 2020. This replaces the additional licensing scheme introduced in 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 less than half of the flats are owner-occupied.

Properties that require an HMO licence (PDF)

Please note: Applications received for properties with zero 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.

Renewing a HMO licence

 The process for renewing a HMO licence is the same for both mandatory and additional HMO licences. A second borough wide additional HMO licensing scheme started on 8 December 2020.

It is necessary for all landlords and managing agents to ensure that they apply for a new HMO licence before the old one expires (check the expiry date on the front page of the licence). Not only will it cost you more if you apply late for the renewed license, it’s also a criminal offence to rent a property as an HMO without a licence. 

There are some important changes since the first additional licensing was introduced. This includes changes to the HMO standards and works required. It is important that all work required on the first HMO licence has been satisfactorily completed within the timescales given.

Who can apply for a renewal?
You can renew your licence if all of the following apply: -

  • you already hold an unexpired HMO licence
  • the proposed licence holder is the same person as the current licence holder
  • there are no significant changes to the property

If you apply after the licence expiry date you'll need to apply for a new licence

Licensed landlords must apply online to renew their licence(s) prior to the expiry of their existing licence (normally 5 years). Access to the HMO portal will open 30 days before expiry date of the existing licence. 

The expiry date of your HMO licence is shown on your licence. Whilst we aim to send you a reminder approximately two months before your licence is due to expire it is your responsibility to apply in time. You should therefore check your licence to see when it expires.

See also Guidance on making an HMO application (pages 8-9) about making a renewal

Information to have ready when making an application
Officers will need to know if there have been material changes since the original application. You must make a legal declaration about any material changes. 
You will also need:
1.    Current gas/electrical/fire safety certificates 
2.    Evidence works conditions on previous licence have been completed
3.    Debit or credit card to make payment
Please read the application form guidance and application form checklist before you apply:

You will need to pay a fee to complete your application.

Further information


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.

The application will take around 45 minutes to complete.

Apply for a HMO Licence

After you’ve applied

What happens next?

Once granted, a licence will normally last for 5 years. There are some circumstances when a 1 year licence will be issued.

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 must apply for a new HMO licence.

 If you already hold a licence it is your legal obligation to make a renewal application before your current licence expires. As a courtesy we aim to send a renewal reminder to existing licence holders around two months before their licences end. However this is not a legal requirement.

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 the council offices at 5 Pancras Square, 5 Pancras Rd, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AG.

Temporary Exemption Notices for HMOs

If your property is a licensable HMO you must apply for a licence.

However, if you intend to make changes to the property so it ceases to be licensable you can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice (TEN). Where a TEN is served, it will allow you to operate without a licence for three months while you are making the changes to remove the property from the requirement to license.

To qualify for a TEN, you must show that you are taking actual steps to ensure the property will no longer need a licence. We will ask to see evidence to support your application. This could be by you providing supporting documents or other information confirming the action being taken. We may also carry out additional checks, including with other agencies as appropriate.

You cannot apply for a TEN to avoid being licensed.

It is a criminal offence to manage or be in control of an unlicensed property.

It is also an offence to provide false or misleading information to obtain a TEN.

We can refuse or revoke your TEN and take other appropriate action if you:

  • omit any relevant information to support your application
  • make any false statements or misrepresentations

There is no cost for a TEN.

Apply for a TEN

Reclaiming 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)

Advice for tenants living in an unlicensed HMO (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.

Private Sector Housing enforcement policy (PDF)

News and events

Landlord newsletters

Issue 8: Spring 2023

Issue 7: Spring 2022

Issue 6: Spring 2021

Issue 5: Autumn 2020

Issue 4: Spring 2020

Issue 3: Autumn 2019

Issue 2: Winter 2018/19

Issue 1: Autumn 2018

Landlord and Agent Forums


8 November 2023 - HMO licensing, financial penalties and technological developments, Trading Standards and the private rented sector, Camden Lettings, landlord update

17 May 2023 - damp and mould, energy efficiency for landlords, landlord update, 1-year licensing, future of forums

14 November 2019 - fire safety

4 April 2019 - rent repayment orders, tenants fees, housing fitness

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 5969.

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 5969.

Contact for tenants