HMO licensing

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property which is occupied by three or more people forming two or more households, where facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms are normally shared. It includes bedsits, shared houses and some self-contained flats. 

All landlords who let large houses in multiple occupation need an HMO licence from the council. HMO licences are valid for five years, after which they need to be renewed. Further information of HMO Standards can be found here.

Mandatory licensing

From 1 October 2018 mandatory House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing changed. Mandatory licensing is no longer only be limited to HMOs that are three or more storeys high but will also include buildings with one or two storeys which are occupied by 5 or more people sharing an amenity. The new legislation applies to landlords across the UK.

What buildings are included?

  • Properties with five or more people who form two or more households. This includes both shared houses and bedsits where occupants share amenities. The property must be their main residence.
  • Flats that are occupied by 5 or more people who form two or more households that are within blocks of non-purpose built flats. This only applies where the block consists of more than 3 or more self-contained flats. This will include flats above and below commercial premises and flats in converted buildings.
  • A converted building which contains more than one unit of living accommodation but at least one of the units is not contained behind its entrance door. For example where someone has to cross the common stairway to access a facility such as a toilet.

Section 257
Section 257 HMOs are not included in Mandatory Licensing. A section 257 HMO is a building that has been converted into a block of flats, which are all now self-contained, which do not comply with current building regulations, and less than two-thirds of the flats are owner-occupied.

How to apply for a mandatory HMO Licence

If you have an additional licence that will expire and require a new mandatory licence either:

  • Complete the online licence form
  • Complete the PDF (both part one - personal details and part two - property details)
  • Make your payment either by:
                - cheque: please make cheques payable to Portsmouth City Council, and send to: Private Sector Housing, Portsmouth City Council, Civic offices, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, PO1 2AZ.
                - card over the phone: please tick the box on the application form.
                - online: visit the payments portal and choose 'miscellaneous', then 'licensing'. (Due to the way receipts are received, please add the addresses of the HMO properties the payment relates to in the message box at the bottom of the form.)

Please note:

  1. Floor plans - please ensure your label rooms (for example 'bedroom 1' and 'bedroom 2') with sizes in m2 (square meters), and that the rooms correspond with the form.
  2. If you have previously submitted your certificates with your Additional licence application form and the documents are in date and have not expired, you will not need to re-submit them.

We are required by law to provide certain information on a public register. This includes:

  • The name, address and contact details of the Licence Holder and Managing Agent.
  • Details of the maximum number of persons the licence is granted for.
  • Details of the property such as number of storeys and the amenities the property has.

Fees - new application

Property Details Non Rent It Right (LAS) member Rent It Right (LAS) member
Basic property with 5 occupants    
Single application £790 £730
Multiple application £700 £640
Property of 3 storeys or more with 6 to 10 occupants    
Single application £920 £860
Multiple application £835 £775
Property of 3 storeys or more with 11 to 15 occupants    
Single application £1070 £1010
Multiple application £980 £920
Property of 3 storeys or more with 16 to 20 occupants    
Single application £1230 £1170
Multiple application £1180 £1090
Property of 3 storeys or more with 20+ occupants    
Single application £1390 £1330
Multiple application £1230 £1150


Online HMO Mandatory Licence Application - new

Mandatory Application form - new (PDF)

Mandatory Application form - renewal (PDF)


Failure to apply for a licence is an offence under section 72 of the housing act 2004 which upon summary conviction may render a person liable to a fine up to £20,000. An application may also be made to the residential property service for a rent repayment order. Should an order be made there may be a requirement to repay housing benefit paid to an occupier of the house in multiple occupation while the property was unlicensed.

Refund policy

A full refund will be given if:

  • You have made a duplicate application
  • You made an application for an exempted property by mistake

A refund will not be given if:

  • You withdraw your application at any stage
  • We refuse your application
  • We revoke (take away) your licence
  • You are subsequently refused planning permission for your HMO
  • Your property ceases to be let as an HMO during the term of the licence