Licensing a house in multiple occupation (HMO)

HMOs that need a licence

A licence is required when a house in multiple occupation (HMO) is occupied by 5 or more persons in 2 or more households.

On 1 October 2018 the scope of mandatory HMO licensing was extended. It now covers all HMOs with 5 or more persons, including, for example:

  • flats
  • bungalows
  • two-storey properties

The details are contained in the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018

We have a booklet which tells HMO owners about the amenity standards we expect: Guidance on Standards for HMOs.

Failure to license an HMO

Failure to obtain a licence for a licensable HMO is a criminal offence. Landlords who do not comply could face:

  • an unlimited fine
  • a banning order

Find out more about enforcement in our Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy [PDF, 327KB].


Fees are payable in 2 stages: £500 for each new application and £400 for each renewal. This is payable upon application and is non-refundable. The licence fee will then be payable in full prior to a licence being issued.

The fees are for properties with 5 bedrooms. For each additional bedroom there will be a fee of £25.

Application type Proactive application Application through enforcement Proactive application from landlord associated member
New application £930 £1,170 £810
Renewal £590 £1,170 £470
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Apply for or renew an HMO licence

We only accept online applications. We're processing the licence applications in the order in which they are received.

You're allowed to operate the HMO while your application is being processed, pending an inspection by officers.

Firstly, read the guide to HMO licensing.

You'll also need to print and complete the declaration of applicant, which should be uploaded at the end of the application.

The declaration needs to be completed by:

  • the proposed licence holder
  • the proposed manager
  • the person having control of the property

Select your area below to apply:

Aylesbury Vale area

Chilterns area

South Bucks area

Wycombe area

Once you have completed your application, we'll arrange an appointment to inspect your HMO. Then we'll prepare a proposed HMO licence for consultation with all interested parties.

How long an HMO licence lasts

Licenses are granted for a period of up to 5 years but in some circumstances the timescale may be shortened. For example, this may be if the landlord or agent has a history of enforcement or non-compliance.

Changes to a licensed HMO

A landlord must notify Buckinghamshire Council of their intention to change the use of the property, for example, if they intend to:

  • sell the property with vacant possession
  • convert into self-contained flats
  • carry out major renovation works
  • let to a single household or family

In these circumstances, the council may serve a temporary exemption notice, which lasts 3 months. During this time the house does not need to be licensed.

At the end of the period, the property must be licensed if it remains a licensable HMO, or it must stop being an HMO.

In exceptional circumstances, a second temporary exemption notice may be served for an extra 3 months.

The council can decide not to serve a temporary exemption notice. In this instance, the person who gave the notification must be served with a notice of this decision.

The notice should include:

  • the reasons for the decision
  • the date on which the decision was made
  • information about the right to appeal against the decision