Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

If you rent out a property as a house in multiple occupation (HMO), you may require a licence from us.

If you rent out or intend to rent out a house in multiple occupation which is occupied by five or more people (who form more than one household and they share at least one bathroom, kitchen and/or toilet or lack one of these amenities) then you are required to have a licence. 

What is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?

The definition of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is set out in sections 254-259 of the Housing Act 2004 (as amended). The definition includes buildings where the people who live there, do not live together as a single household and there is some sharing of facilities or a lack of basic amenities and can include:

  • Bedsits
  • Shared housing (e.g. let to a group of students)
  • Hostels
  • Bed & breakfast establishments
  • Some guest houses and hotels
  • Lodgings
  • Registered care homes
  • Boarding houses
  • Properties which have been converted into self-contained flats

What is a Household?

The occupants are all considered to be part of the same household (Section 258 Housing Act 2004) if they are all members of the same family. That includes people living together as husband and wife or in a similar same sex relationship, plus others related to them as parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or cousin. A half-blood relationship is treated the same as full blood and a stepchild is treated the same as a child.

Temporary Exemption

You must apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice if you intend to:

  • Stop renting the property out
  • Reduce the number of occupants to below five

If your application for a Temporary Exemption Notice is successful, it’ll last for a maximum of three months. You may apply for a secondary notice after this period, however, if the issue is still unresolved after this notice runs out then you must apply for a HMO licence.

Making an Application

Applications must be made to Hartlepool Borough Council using this application form or online. Your application will not be processed until all the accompanying attachments and HMO licence fee are received. Guidance on how to making your application and details of fees can be found in our guidance notes for applicants.

Application checks

The Council will undertake checks to ensure that the proposed licence holder and others managing the HMO (or any people associated with them) are 'fit and proper' people. In deciding whether someone is fit and proper the Council will take in to account:

  • Any previous convictions relating to offences involving; violence, drugs, sexual offences and fraud or dishonesty
  • Contraventions of laws relating to housing, health and safety, public health, building or planning legislation or landlord and tenant law
  • Whether the person has practiced unlawful discrimination on the grounds of sex, colour, race, ethnic or national origins or disability

Licence Approval Process

Licences will be granted if:

a. The house is or can be made suitable for multiple occupation

We will consider the application and determine the number of households and/or persons allowed to occupy the HMO. In doing this we will consider the number of rooms available to be used for sleeping and/or for communal purposes. We also consider the sizes of these rooms and the number of baths and/or showers, toilets and kitchen amenities. 

b. The applicant is a fit and proper person and the most appropriate person to hold the licence

Along with meeting the fit and proper person criteria, the Council will need to be satisfied that the licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the licence. The most appropriate person is the person having control of the HMO. The person having control is defined in section 263 of the Housing Act 2004 as 'the person who receives not less than two-thirds of the full net annual value of the premise' i.e. two-thirds of the rental income.

c. The proposed manager has control of the house, and is a fit and proper person to be the manager

Along with meeting the fit and proper person criteria, the Council will need to be satisfied that the person managing the HMO is either the person having control of the HMO or is a person who is an employee or an agent of the person having control of the HMO.

d. The management arrangements are satisfactory

In considering whether the proposed management arrangements for the HMO are satisfactory the Council will give consideration that any person involved in the management of the HMO has a sufficient level of competence to be involved. We will also carry out checks to ensure that any person who will be involved in the management of the HMO (other than the manager) is a fit and proper person to be involved and the Council will also check to see if the proposed management structures and funding arrangements are suitable.

We will aim to process your application within eight weeks of a fully made application being received. We will not process your application if it is not accompanied by the relevant fee and documentation.

Waiting for consent

You should not assume that you can proceed and operate your HMO if you have not received a decision from us. We must process your application fully before permission can be granted. 

Risk assessment

The council has to carry out a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) risk assessment on your HMO within 5 years of receiving a licence application. If any hazards are identified during the inspection, appropriate action will be taken ranging from informal advice to enforcement action.

 HMO Management Regulations

The Houses in Multiple Occupation (Management) Regulations 2006 apply to all HMOs. 


Existing Licences Issued under part 3 of the Housing Act 2004 (Selective Licences)

If a property is currently licensed under the Council’s Selective Licensing scheme and now comes under the scope of the extended HMO definition, there is no need for a new HMO licence application until the existing licence expires. Such licences will automatically be passported into the mandatory HMO scheme.

We will provide advice and guidance on conditions that will need to be met once any such HMOs are required to be licensed.


Building/Development Control

The Applicant is responsible for ensuring that any relevant building/development control approval is in place for the building to be used as a House in Multiple Occupation. When we receive your application, we will notify Building and Development Control that an application for an HMO has been made and this may result in them requiring you to seek any necessary approvals/consents (if not already in place).

You may wish to submit an enquiry through the Council’s Planning Advisory Service sometimes known as One Stop Shop’

Need help with your application?

If you need help in completing your application please contact us on 01429 284325 or email


Complaints and advice

If you are not happy and would like to complain about the way your licence application has been dealt with please contact us in the first instance so that we can look at ways to resolve your concerns. If you wish to make a formal complaint to the Council, you may wish to submit this to us using the Council’s Complaints, Comments and Compliments process.

If your licence application is refused you can make representations to us in the first instance. You may also appeal to a residential property tribunal.

If we still refuse your licence application then you can appeal to the First-tier tribunal – Property Chamber (Residential Property). This must be done within 28 days of the decision to refuse your application being made.

You may appeal to a residential property tribunal regarding conditions attached to a licence or any decision to vary or revoke a licence. Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made.

Manchester - Northern Region Address: Residential Property 
1st Floor 
Piccadilly Exchange 
Piccadilly Plaza 
M1 4AH 

Telephone: 0161 237 9491
Fax: 01264 785 128