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HMO licensing

What is an HMO?

HMO stands for “House in Multiple Occupation.”  To be an HMO, a property has to meet the following criteria:

  • It is privately rented
  • There are three or more people living in the property
  • In two or more households – i.e. at least one person is not related to any other person who lives in the property
  • At least two people who are not related to each other share the use of kitchen, bathroom or lavatory facilities.

If you and your family live in the house in question as owner-occupiers, you can have up to two lodgers without the property being considered an HMO.

Note that placing your tenants on a joint tenancy agreement does not cause them to be related to each other; a house rented to three or more students on a joint tenancy will therefore be an HMO. 

Does my HMO need a licence?

A mandatory licence – sometimes called an HMO licence – is needed for any HMO which comprises five or more persons. It is an offence to operate a licensable HMO without having submitted a valid licence application.   

Please note that from 4 May 2020, HMOs comprising three or four persons will also be licensable. See our Property Licensing consultation for further details.

There are a few exemptions to the above requirement:

  • An HMO converted entirely into self-contained flats in accordance with 1991 Building Regulation standards
  • Buildings controlled or managed by public sector bodies (such as councils and housing associations)
  • Buildings occupied solely or principally by students on full time courses, where the education establishment manages the property and has signed up to an Approved Code of Practice (in Coventry this currently only applies to campus and large purpose-built buildings - it does not apply to off-campus houses where Warwick Accommodation or Future Lets act as managing agents.)
  • Buildings regulated by other legislation such as some care homes, bail hostels etc.
  • Buildings entirely occupied by freeholders or long leaseholders
  • A building for which a temporary exemption notice has been served

HMO licensing


Tel: 024 7697 5467

Coventry City Council
PO Box 15
Council House

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