Houses in Multiple Occupation Licensing overview

The Housing Act 2004 introduced “property licensing” from 2006 to ensure private rented homes are well managed. A named “licence holder” is required for each property.

Failing to apply for an HMO licence is an offence under the Housing Act 2004 s72(1) and liable to a civil penalty of up to £30,000 or an unlimited fine on summary conviction in court. In addition, tenants can apply for a rent repayment order, and if successful this could mean that they can claim back rent paid whilst the HMO operated without a licence.

Mandatory Licensing for HMOs

  • All houses that have five (5) or more occupants from two or more households who share facilities
  • Houses that meet the “buildings converted partly into self-contained flats” that have five (5) or more occupants
  • Flats that have five (5) or more occupants from two or more households who share facilities but is not a purpose-built flat situated in a block comprising three or more self-contained flats.

Additional Licensing for HMOs

  • Oxford City Council decided on 10 March 2021 to introduce a new designation for Additional Licensing to cover the whole City.
  • This scheme starts on 10th June 2021.
  • This means all HMOs in Oxford will require an HMO licence from 10th June 2021.
  • See our Additional Licensing scheme changes 2021 pages for further information.
  • See our  property licensing consultation pages for further information on the consultation that was undertaken in autumn 2020.
  • For information on the 2011 to 2016 schemes, see HMO licensing background

HMO licence conditions

All HMO licences are issued with the same standard conditions.

We inspect all HMOs before they are first licensed to ensure the HMO meets minimum requirements. If they do not, we will add conditions to the licence to require landlords to undertake works within a set time frame.

Planning Permission

In Oxford, all HMOs must have the relevant planning permission – either C4 use (small HMO 3 to 6 people) or sui generis use (large HMO - 7 plus people). This is a separate legal requirement to a licence. You must speak to the Development Management team, Planning department for advice on planning permission by emailing planning@oxford.gov.uk or call 01865 249811 and select option for Planning.