Houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

If you rent your property out to several tenants who aren't members of the same family, it's likely to be a HMO (house in multiple occupation).

You'll need to apply to us for a licence if your property is, or could be, occupied as a HMO by five or more people. If you don't have a licence you may be prosecuted or fined up to £30,000. The licence usually lasts for five years.

Please read all of the information below before you start your application.

Find out more about HMOs and self-contained flats and the amenity standards for HMOs.

Properties that need a HMO licence  

A property is classed as a HMO if:   

  • five or more people live there in at least two separate households
  • the tenants share bathroom or kitchen facilities   

A HMO could be:   

  • a shared house or flat where the tenants are not members of the same family
  • a house split into bedsits
  • a hostel
  • shared accommodation for students    

Before you buy a property that you're intending to let as a HMO you'll need to make sure it has the right planning permission, or that it's likely to get planning permission. The same applies if you're converting a property into a HMO.  

Who can apply   

You can only apply to be the licence holder if you have full financial control of the property. This means that you're responsible for paying for any repairs to the property and you receive the rental income. Your letting agent or managing agent won't be able to apply for a HMO licence on your behalf.     

A HMO licence is not transferable. If you sell the property the new owner will need to apply for a licence in their name.     

What you'll be responsible for as a HMO landlord

To get a licence your property will need to meet the legal minimum standards set out in the Housing Act 2004 and national licencing and management regulations 2006.    

As a HMO landlord you must make sure that:    

  • you have proper fire safety measures in place and a fire risk assessment for your property
  • you arrange gas safety checks every year
  • every five years the electrics are checked
  • you deal with any repairs to the structure, fixtures and fittings (including electrical wiring, gas and water pipes)
  • your property isn't overcrowded
  • your tenant's deposits are in a deposit protection scheme
  • your property manager or letting agent (if you have one) is signed up to a government approved redress scheme    

Landlords of licensable HMOs have responsibilities for conditions relating to anti-social behaviour; this forms part of the licence application. Please make sure you're aware of these when considering applying for a HMO licence as it may affect your application, or it may be revoked, if you don't take effective action to deal with anti-social behaviour if it arises in a property you're the landlord or licence holder of.

Read more about being a private landlord and what's involved in our advice for landlords and the government guide to licensing houses in multiple occupation for landlords and managers.

The Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 places a duty upon landlords or person having control of the house in multiple occupation to ensure they have undertaken and can provide when asked, a written fire risk assessment of their property which covers the common parts. For example: adequate means of escape, correct fire boarding and fire detection which is in place and can be verified, testing and audit procedures where appropriate. Find out more on the fire safety law and guidance.    

How to apply 

You can apply online for a HMO licence using our online form below. You'll need to apply as soon as reasonably possible after buying a HMO or converting a property into one.

If you're renewing your licence you should apply before your existing one expires.

You could be prosecuted or fined up to £30,000 if your property doesn't have a valid HMO licence when it legally requires one.

Information you'll need to apply    

You'll need to provide the following details in the application form:   

Interested parties    

Separate contact details for all interested parties, including:    

  • the proposed licence holder
  • the owner/joint owner
  • the managing agent (if it's not the same person as the licence holder)
  • the letting agency if you use one to rent out your property
  • any long term tenants or leaseholders
  • the mortgage provider    

You should also have informed all of these people that you're intending to apply for a HMO licence.    

Please tell us if the proposed licence holder or manager has a criminal record, with the dates and details of any convictions.    

Property   

The facilities and amenities of the house including: 

  • the purpose of each room (kitchen, bathroom, etc)
  • the number of bedrooms
  • the exact measurements of each room in m2 (eg 10.45m2)    

You'll also need to upload a scanned copy of a valid:    

  • gas safety certificate
  • fire safety certificate
  • electrical safety certificate     

Declaration    

You'll need to agree to a statement of declaration that gives us the authority to carry out checks on: 

  • the licence holder
  • any other interested parties
  • the property    

Fees and how to pay    

A HMO licence is £505 for a property with up to five bedrooms.

If the property has more than five bedrooms you'll be charged an additional £50 for each bedroom.

If you've asked us to do your Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check we'll charge you an extra £70.

You'll need to pay online for your HMO licence. We'll send you an email with a payment reference and the amount due when we've approved your application.

Checks we'll make 

When we've received your application we'll arrange to visit the property to inspect it.   

When we visit the property we'll check that it's large enough for the number of occupants and that it meets the minimum standards. You don't need to attend, but you should make sure that we can access the property and each room.   

You'll need to give any tenants already living there at least 24 hours notice before we visit. 

We'll only give you a HMO licence if:

  • the house is reasonably suitable for the specified number of people to live there 
  • the house meets the conditions of the licence
  • the proposed licence holder is a fit and proper person
  • the proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the licence 

We'll also do some background checks on the proposed licence holder and any other interested parties you've named in the form. If you've had a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and have a current certificate, you can upload it in the form.  

If you don't have a DBS certificate we may ask you to have a DBS check before we can process your application. You can either arrange it yourself, or ask us to do it on your behalf. We'll add £70 to the cost of your licence if you ask us to acquire your DBS check.  

We'll return to check the property if we have any concerns during the licence period. 

When you'll receive your licence  

When we've received your form it usually takes up to 28 days to check the information you've told us and arrange and complete the pre-licence inspection. We'll let you know if we need to make any additional checks that could delay the licence. Once we've established the suitability of the property for licensing, we'll request payment for your application, and on receipt of payment issue a proposed licence. There is a mandatory 28 day minimum consultation period for all interested parties to make representations in relation to the proposed licence. After this period a decision is made on granting the licence.

The length of the licence is usually five years, but we can award it for a shorter period in some circumstances.

More information

Penalties for not having a valid licence 

If you breach any of the conditions on your HMO licence you could be prosecuted in court, fined up to £20,000 and given a criminal record, or receive a fine of up to £30,000 per offence (each breach).

You could be subject to a rent repayment order requiring the repayment or rents to the tenants, or refund benefits to the council, for money received in the last 12 months.

You are in breach of your licence if you:

  • allow more people to live at the property than the maximum number on the licence, in total and per room.
  • add extra bedrooms without an authorised variation.
  • change the purpose of any rooms without an authorised variation.
  • sell the property and fail to inform the council.
  • give somebody else financial control of the property and fail to inform the council.

Changes to your licence

You'll need to apply for a variation to your existing licence if there are any changes in your circumstances or to the property during the licence period. There's no charge for doing this. If you don't tell us about any changes you may be in breach of your licence conditions, you could be prosecuted or fined, and we may seek to revoke your licence.

You're not able to apply for a variation to transfer a licence to a new owner; an application for a new licence will be required by the new owner. However, you are able to vary a licence to reflect a new manager for the remainder of the licence period.

You can apply for a variation using our online form below. Alternatively, if you want to discuss the need for a variation, please email SharedAccommodationTeam@barnsley.gov.uk before submitting your application.

Temporary Exemption Notices

You can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice if you intend to stop the property operating as an HMO. The exemption notice will last for three months from the date it was awarded.

To apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice please email SharedAccommodationTeam@barnsley.gov.uk telling us all of the relevant information.

HMO register

We maintain a register of HMOs with a current licence in Barnsley. Licences that we're currently processing may not appear on the register. HMOs not required to be licensed will not appear on this register.

If you have any concerns about HMOs in Barnsley please email SharedAccommodationTeam@barnsley.gov.uk

If you think a property is a licensable HMO and it's not on the register, please report it to us.

Report a suspected HMO

If you think people are living in a property being operated as a HMO you can report this to us using our online form below.

You can check our register of HMOs in Barnsley with a current licence. Licences that we're currently processing may not yet appear on the register. HMOs not required to be licensed will not appear on this register.