Do I need a HMO license to rent my property?

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  • Do I need a HMO license to rent my property?

We are asked this question on a regular basis. We are surprised when we speak to landlords that they do not have one. They are also not aware that they must have a license for their property. It still amazes us today that landlords are not aware of the requirements.

We recently spoke to a landlord who has let their property through another agent being a three-bedroom flat. However, he did not know he needed a licence.  The flat was in Hove, but it was over two floors, so they needed a licence. She was not aware that she had to have a license for the property and the agent had not told her.

She was not aware that any rent she received from the tenants before she had a licence needed to be repaid. This is because she does not have a licence to rent the property out.

There is no defence to this. It is something that she had to go back to the previous letting agent to discuss it with them.


Do not be fooled to think that licenses only relate to HMO’s. This is not the case. The Government must approve scheme before the local authorities can put them in place. You will often find that these schemes do involve HMO’s ie. Housing of Multiple Occupation or students. But it is not always the case. Councils can decide to do selective licensing within their area. They use selective licensing to improve housing stock within the city or town. But they can also use it to ensure that certain areas are not used by students etc.

Brighton and Hove last year decided to do selective licensing scheme. This related to all property with three or more tenants. They have now extended the scheme throughout the whole of Brighton and Hove. If you rent a property out to three people and it is over two floors, you need a licence. They must be unconnected ie not a family. It has now been extended that you will also now need planning permission.

I am a landlord and I appreciate I need a license, but I am not going to bother, what is the point?

We can give an example of what the issues will be. A landlord in High Wickham who let out an unlicensed property that was also in need of repair was fined £4,083.00. Following this was ordered to pay costs of £500.00 and a victim fare charge of £166.00.

On top of this the tenants were entitled to claim through the court all rent that he had received from having an unlicensed property. There is no defence to this.

The landlord had done the following:

  1. Failure to license a house
  2. Had seven breaches of the management of houses in occupation (England) regulations of 2006 regarding conditions.

The breaches were as follows:

  1. Failure to display the name, address, and telephone number of the managing agent within the property.
  2. To replace the missing handle to the kitchen window.
  3. Failure to provide locks on the doors to all letting rooms which could be operated from within the room without a key.
  4. To provide adequate fire protection to the loft hatch and cupboard beneath the stairs which held the utility meters and consumer units.
  5. Failure to replace the missing external door handle.
  6. To repair a large hole in the external kitchen wall.
  7. Failure to maintain the garden in a safe and tidy condition.

The items outlined above may seem small. The context of having an unlicensed property though is massive. It is important to understand what your legal requirements are. You must ensure you understand what you need to do.

Brighton has a website that you can check if you need one. All you must do is put the details in. If you are unable to work out what the criteria, why do not you contact us. We will do it for you. If you do not wish to be exposed or fined. Did you know that the council can stop you renting your property? They can stop you from having a licence.

Are there requirements for HMO’s?

Yes, there are. There are a lot of requirements which the council will need, such as the following:

1) Washing facilities.

Dependant on the amount of people within the property. This will then set number of baths, showers and hand basins required. Some properties require toilets and bathrooms to be a certain size.

2) Kitchens.

There will be some form of kitchen required, not more than on one floor and suitably located in the accommodation.

The kitchen will need to be equipped with some form of the following:

1) Sinks with draining boards.

2) Adequate supply of cold and hot water.

3) Installation or equipped with equipment for cooking food.

4) Electrical sockets

5) Adequate work tops, preparation of food.

6) Cupboards for storage of food or kitchen utensils.

7) Refrigerators. With an adequate freezer department.

8) Appropriate refuse storage and dispose facilities.

9) Appropriate extractor fans.

10) Dining facilities. This is dependent on the size of the house.

There are very tight and stringent room sizes for properties. There are minimum room sizes. They relate to shape and floor to ceiling height offering adequate living space.

In respect of the floor area where the ceiling is 1.5 meters or higher will be counted. Room sizes are whether they are self-contained or non-self-contained.

We can help in this regard.

  1. There will be individual bathrooms required.
  2. Landlords must provide the name and address of any manager at the property.
  3. The landlord must have a property tenancy agreement laid out in respect of the property and to give a copy of the tenancy agreement within 28 days of the council requesting.
  4. As the landlord you cannot over crowd the property.
  5. The landlord must ensure that there is a reasonable utility supplies at the property.
  6. The landlord must ensure that there are smoke detectors and carbon monoxide at the property.
  7. You must ensure as the landlord that there are adequate and appropriate fire precaution facilities at the property. This is one of the most important. This will come under the health and fire safety. There is a guide called lacors which you should refer to. This has all the requirements in it.  This can be very expensive. They will also need fire doors together with door stops. It will be best in this instance to have a fire risk assessment carried out. Then you will know what your property required.


It must have an adequate means heating that should be able to reach at least between 21 – 22 degrees.

Furnishings, furniture, and fittings.

Furniture and furnishings should be supplied if appropriate.

Energy efficiency.

In energy efficiency the landlord must show that the property is being energy efficient in records with the EPC.

Property management.

The landlord must provide full details of the property management in relation to the property.

Property inspections.

The landlord must show that they have carried out regular property inspections. We often find with landlords who have HMO’s they do not understand that this is the case and have never carried out an inspection. As such you are technically in breach of the license.

Waste and Recycling.

Landlords must supply details of the waste and recycling that is due in respect of the property and when it is due to be collected etc.

Anti-social behaviour.

You must ensure that there is adequate information within the tenancy agreement to deal with any anti-social behaviour and hat the procedures are.

You will see from the above that the details of the requirements for licensing are quite stringent. It is important that you understand what licencing requirements there are. This can be in any area with the local licencing rules and regulations. The consequences of penalties can be quite severe.

If you require advice and want to know what your legal requirements are then do not hesitate to contact us. We are fully adverse and update to date with all the requirements. We understand what the local authority in Brighton requires but also what the government do. At Harringtons we have monthly meetings with our solicitor. They work on the law commission who advise the government in this area.  We specialise in giving landlord advice in Brighton and Hove on this. Please read our previous article on Mandatory licensing across the country (click here).

Why not contact us on 01273 724000 to discuss the requirements or advice you wish to obtain.

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google-review Review
17:30 22 Feb 24
Have been very accommodating and helpful when calling agents. They have been very helpful in being able to secure a house for students.
16:42 21 Feb 24
Went above and beyond to get things sorted for me
Brittany Stace
Brittany Stace
11:18 24 Jan 24
Harringtons have been incredibly helpful and supportive of us as new renters and they have been super efficient in getting all of the documents sent through and signed in such a short period of time. Thank you!
Georgie Prebble
Georgie Prebble
20:36 05 Jan 24
Jade Innes
Jade Innes
10:24 04 Jan 24
So far the service has been good. The staff are very friendly and quick to respond to any questions and requests.
Polly Smith
Polly Smith
11:17 28 Dec 23
we chose this letting agents as they chose a good bills company that is much cheaper than other agents. When viewing houses the staff were very friendly and have been very helpful in answering our questions and making the process as easy as possible.
Emma Howe
Emma Howe
16:06 14 Nov 23
I would rate Harringtons Lettings a 5/5. Very lovely on the phone and very quick and easy to communicate with via email. Any problems have been resolved in no time at all. So far so good!I found Harringtons via Rightmove.
Akwisitions Feedback
Akwisitions Feedback
16:25 30 Oct 23
Very responsive and super helpful throughout the process. Highly recommended!
Chloe Ballard
Chloe Ballard
17:28 02 Oct 23
Although I have only been renting with Harringtons for a short period of time, I have had nothing but a positive experience. From viewing to admin updates. The admin team especially are very polite and quick to respond and I have no doubt that the rest of my tenancy will run smoothly. I would recommend to anyone considering renting in brighton.
Matthew Ball
Matthew Ball
11:46 19 Sep 23
Professional communication with tenant although entirely impersonal. There was a bigger disconnect in their communication with the landlord in most cases, which seemed to be either slow or non-existent (discovered after contacting the landlord directly).Property was full of spider webs on day 1 despite apparently being professionally cleaned. Took a day off of work to clean it on move out day, leaving it cleaner than when it received but still had to pay part of the deposit for professional cleaning.It has been a while since I have rented, but I'll avoid letting agencies completely now if this is anything close to the average renting experience.
Ronan SK
Ronan SK
12:38 12 Sep 23
Great professionalism/communciation from the start up until the end of my tenancy. Definitely set the standards for what agencies should be like. Highly recommend to those within Brighton.
Daniel Sutton
Daniel Sutton
10:29 24 Aug 23
I have rented with Harringtons Lettings before and have always found the agents to be quick, efficient, friendly and helpful. I loved their service so much I have chosen to rent with Harringtons again. Faultless 😊
See All Reviews
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