You are responsible for making an application for a licence for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) if:

  • you own or lease a property which meets the HMO definition and you receive rent (either collected directly from the tenants or through an agent) from tenants or licensees (agents can apply for the licence on behalf of landlords)
  • you receive the ‘rack-rent’ (two-thirds or more of the full net annual value of the rent) from a property which meets the HMO definition (includes agents who receive the rent from the tenants on behalf of landlords or tenants who sublet

When to apply

A new application for an HMO licence must be made as soon as it is occupied as an HMO. We will accept applications up to four weeks before the house is occupied. We will ask for copies of tenancy agreements to prove date of occupation.

It is an offence to fail to apply for an HMO licence – there is no “grace” period in the Housing Act 2004. Our fee policy gives a reduction on the fee where the application is made within 12 weeks of purchase/creating the HMO to incentivise landlords to comply. Landlords who take longer than, or cannot demonstrate that the application was made within, 12 weeks will be charged a higher application fee. There may still be circumstances where the Council decides it is appropriate to take enforcement action for failing to licence an HMO within the 12 week period.

The legislation does not allow HMO licences to be transferred to another person. A new application is required for a new HMO licence holder e.g. owner or agent.

A valid renewal application must be made before the expiry date of the current licence. If it is not, then a renewal application cannot be accepted under the Housing Act 2004 and associated regulations and a new application must be made accompanied by the new application fee. A renewal reminder is sent approximately two months before expiry within information on how to renew the licence.

Please note, due to the new Additional HMO licence scheme there are some changes to the application process. This only affects certain landlords whose HMO licence expired between 24 January 2021 and 09 June 2021.

You cannot change licence holder on renewal of a HMO licence– this requires a new application to be made.

Licence holder and management arrangements (UK and overseas)

The licence holder and manager must normally be resident in the UK (a serving member of armed forces is classed as a UK resident even if based abroad).

If a landlord lives overseas, it may be possible for them to be the licence holder depending on the management arrangements. The licence holder must be fit and proper and able to demonstrate satisfactory management arrangements exist. If there is a UK managing agent (preferably a reasonable distance from Oxford) who has full management control, then this is likely to be granted. If the landlord does not have a UK managing agent with full control, then the landlord must still legally make an application and must explain their arrangements, which we will consider. All applications from overseas landlords will be decided on a case-by-case basis by a senior officer.

Further Information

The licence holder is normally the landlord or a managing agent with full management control. A licence holder can be a registered company. We may accept a family member as the licence holder, providing they receive the rent or can otherwise prove how they will manage the property.

The applicant is the person completing the form. If you are completing the form on behalf of someone else to be the licence holder, then name yourself as the “applicant” and name the other person as “the licence holder”.

If the applicant is a lettings / property management agency, then name the company / organisation as the applicant and provide a general email address e.g. info@companyname.org.uk

Where the applicant and licence holder are different, then both must sign the declaration associated with the application. Where the applicant is a lettings / property management agency then the declaration must be signed by a person who is authorised to act on behalf of the company / organisation.

Planning permission is different to an HMO licence. You must obtain both to operate an HMO legally.

If the applicant is a lettings / property management agency, then name the company / organisation as the applicant and provide a general email address e.g. info@companyname.org.uk.

Where the applicant and licence holder are different, then both must sign the declaration associated with the application. Where the applicant is a lettings / property management agency then the declaration must be signed by a person who is authorised to act on behalf of the company / organisation.

More information