HMO definitions, exemptions and special cases

Temporary Exemption Notices from licensing for a privately rented property

This guidance explains temporary exemption notices from licensing for private rented properties. It explains:

  • What a temporary exemption notice is
  • The circumstances that the council may consider appropriate
  • Temporary exemption where the licence holder has deceased
  • The process for applying for a temporary exemption notice
  • Right of appeal

Temporary Exemption notices

The Housing Act 2004 allows a person having control of or managing an HMO / rented property which is required to be licensed but is not so licensed to notify the authority of their intention to take particular steps with a view to securing that the house is no longer required to be licensed.

The authority may either grant or refuse to grant a temporary exemption notice.

If an exemption is granted, it is for three (3) months.

At the expiry of the notice, if the property remains licensable then the person must make an application for a licence.

A person may request a second temporary exemption however the Housing Act 2004 only allows this to be granted in exceptional circumstances. This is for three (3) months. This means there is a maximum six (6) month exemption period.

Circumstances where a temporary exemption may be appropriate

You may be eligible for a three (3) month Temporary Exemption in the following circumstances:

  • The property is in the process of being sold and there are signed contracts for exchange within the next three (3) months.
  • The landlord has given the tenants notice to quit and the end date is within the next three (3) months. After this, the landlord will no longer let the property as an HMO / rented property.

Please note, if the house is empty then an exemption is not necessary. The property is not licensable if it is vacant. Please inform us of this and we will update our records.

Temporary exemption where the licence holder has deceased

If the licence holder dies while the licence is in force, the licence ceases to be in force on their death. During the period of three (3) months beginning with the date of the licence holders’ death, the house is to be treated as if on the date of death a temporary exemption notice had been granted.

At the end of this period, if a request is made then a second temporary exemption will be granted for three (3) months. The maximum exemption period is six (6) months from the date of death.

If more than six (6) months have passed since the date of the licence holders’ death, then a temporary exemption is not possible and an application for a licence must be made. This needs to be from the person managing or in control – the person to whom the rent is paid.

Temporary exemption application process

Contact and request a temporary exemption application form. The following information is required:

  • Address of property requiring a temporary exemption
  • Applicant details. Please provide your name, address and contact details (email, telephone number).
  • Identify your role in relation to the property e.g. owner, agent.
  • A full explanation and evidence, as to why this property is valid for a temporary exemption from the licensing scheme.
  • Declaration - As the applicant it is mandatory to declare that to the best of your knowledge the information you have provided is correct.

Complete the application form and send it to as soon as possible. Your application will be processed and reviewed. You will receive either:

  • A notice informing you that a temporary exemption has been granted; or
  • A notice of refusal informing you that the council has refused to grant the temporary exemption.


If the council refuses your application, you may appeal to the First-tier Tribunal regarding refusal. The Tribunal is an expert independent tribunal that act in the same way as the County Court to confirm, vary or overturn the council’s decision. Details of how to appeal will be included on the notice. Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made.

Offences in relation to failing to licence an HMO

Failing to apply for an HMO licence is an offence under the Housing Act 2004 s72(1). Submitting an application for a temporary exemption has the same effect as submitting an application for a licence. Once a temporary exemption application is submitted, the landlord is considered to have applied for a licence. If the temporary exemption application is refused, then an application for a licence must be made.

Further information

More information on licensing can be found aon our HMO pages or you can email: