With effect from 1st October 2018 all HMOs with five or more occupants need to have an HMO licence. Please visit Gov.uk for guidance on the HMO legislation changes. You can also view a presentation on the changes to HMO licensing held at Reading Borough Council on 30 August 2018 here.
Previous rules about occupants of shared houses being one household no longer apply, a household is generally people who are related or in a relationship. The number of occupants is the main factor in determining if a licence is required, not the number of bedrooms.
It is an offence to operate with out a licence where one is legally required. However, you can apply for a temporary exemption if you are taking steps to bring the property outside the scope of the licensing scheme. Usually this would involve a reduction in the number of occupants, to 4 or fewer.
All applications for a HMO licence (new, renewal, variation) or for a temporary exemption notice (TEN), must be made online.
Information required for a new HMO licence includes details on:
You will also be asked to supply:
Applications will be assessed to ensure all questions on the form have been answered and all the required information has been supplied. If this has not been provided, the application may be rejected.
Provided that a landlord has submitted a valid application, the HMO can continue to operate legally until the Council reaches its decision and any appeals against that decision are complete.
We will normally carry out an inspection of the property to check its suitability and to look for any serious hazards.
We may cross-check details of your property with any existing information already held. A consultation process will follow with internal departments of the Council, such as Housing Advice, Building Control and Planning. We may also consult with external organisations such as Thames Valley Police, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service and other local authorities.
Before we can grant a licence, the Council must be sure that:
The licence holder must remove any serious (“category 1”) hazards in the property. This is assessed using the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS). We will normally inspect your property as part of the licensing process and will tell you if there are any category 1 hazards and what work is required to remove them.
Any hazard from fire will be assessed under HHSRS as detailed above. You should not delay applying for a HMO licence until you have installed the necessary fire precautions, if your property is already licensable. Any fire safety improvements necessary will be dealt with as part of the inspection process.
More detail on the fire safety standards required for your property can be found in the Lacors guidance document ‘Housing – Fire Safety’ which is available to download for free from www.gov.uk .
If there are no serious objections and the required criteria are fulfilled, a draft licence will be sent out for consultation. If no further problems develop, a final licence will be granted at the end of the consultation period.
The grant of an HMO licence does not confirm that any necessary planning permissions have been granted. You should be aware that the Council’s Planning Enforcement team is consulted as part of the licensing process, and that in some parts of Reading permitted development rights for the creation of small HMOs have been removed (see Article 4 Directions – Reading Borough Council). If you are in any doubt about the need for planning permission, you should contact the planning department for advice.
The landlord can hold the licence or nominate someone else such as a manager or agent (with their agreement) to be the licence holder. The applicant should be the ‘most appropriate person’ to hold the licence, which will usually be the person who receives the rent. Licences are not transferable to another person.
Where managers are nominated as the licence holders, you must ensure that a suitable agreement is drawn up, clearly stating the responsibilities of both parties.
The licence holder can be more than one person.
Our aim is to process complete applications within 10 weeks of receipt of a valid application (once all the required paperwork and fee are received), but at present this may take significantly longer. We will normally deal with licence applications in date order.
Your application will not be accepted as complete if required documents or the licence fee are not submitted with your application. This will delay the processing of your application.
If a property with a licence is sold or does not require a licence anymore then you can apply online to revoke the licence here.
You cannot transfer a licence. If you sell your HMO, the new owner will have to apply for a licence of their own.
The online application will take fees in 2 stages, an initial application fee (Part A fee) covers the initial administration and then the remainder (Part B fee). will be taken once the draft licence is issued and is towards the enforcement costs and management of the scheme.
The table shows the fee for a HMO with up to 5 letting rooms/units; a supplement of £25 per additional letting room/unit will be applied. Charges shown are the total Part A and Part B fee combined, for a licence lasting up to 5 years.
|Band||Licence fee||Licence renewal fee|
|A – reduced rate is for those applicants who are accredited members of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) (ordinary membership without the accreditation does not attract this discount). A reduction is also offered to landlords who are members of the Reading Rent with Confidence Scheme (RRWC). The property must be accredited at the time the application is made.||£690||£395|
|B – a reduction is offered for landlords renewing their licence only||£770||£475|
If you cannot apply online, or you need some help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our libraries offer internet access, which you may be able to use to complete your application. We may be able to help but there is an additional fee for this, your managing agent may also be able to assist.
|Type of fee/charge||Charge type||Fee excluding VAT||Fee including VAT|
|Non-Statutory charge to assist with completing the MetaStreet online Licence application form||Up to 1.5 hours||£83.49||£100.19|
|Admin charge – fee for bounced cheques, copy of notices, copy of HMO Licence, landlord information pack, copy of HMO Register||Per transaction||£30.46||£36.55|
If circumstances change while you have an application pending and the property no longer needs a licence, you can email us and you may get a partial refund. A full refund will only be paid if the draft licence has not yet been issued, or if no licence was required for example if there were less than 5 occupants. If a property with a licence is sold or does not require a licence anymore then you can apply online to revoke the licence.
See also the following guides and example documents:
Electronic correspondence consent form – this relates to issuing licences and draft licences by email. We issue licence documents by email only where we have consent from all relevant people. If we do not have consent from all relevant people, you may still receive some licences by post. If you consent to receiving documents in this way please complete and return the form, with the relevant information and signature(s) to email@example.com or submit it as an additional document through the portal.