Unlicensed HMOs and Enforcement

To read a general guide to licensing produced for HMO landlords in the West Midlands, please see 'HMO Licensing Guide for Landlords'.

What happens if an HMO isn't licensed?

There may be a good reason for an HMO not to be licensed:

  • It may be exempt
  • A valid application may have been received by us and still be being processed
  • It may be subject to a Temporary Exemption Notice
  • It may be subject to a management order (see below).
  • An application for a licence may have been submitted but a licence has not yet been granted.

If none of the above applies then the HMO should be licensed. There are very serious consequences for not doing so, as detailed below.


The Council may prosecute the person(s) in control of the HMO i.e. the landlord or the agent. If found guilty, an unlimited fine may be imposed and the council will seek to recover costs of any legal action.

Civil penalties

The Council may decide to issue a Civil Penalty. A civil penalty is a financial penalty of up to £30,000 imposed by the Council on an individual or organisation as an alternative to prosecution for certain offences under the Housing Act 2004, and a breach of a banning order under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

Rent repayment order

The Council may seek to recover any housing benefit paid for the period that the HMO remained unlicensed for up to a period of 12 months. Similarly, tenants may seek to recover rent paid for the same period where the landlord has been found guilty for operating a HMO without a licence.

Management order

If it does not appear to the Council that the HMO is likely to be licensed in the near future or that health and safety is an issue, the Council may apply for an interim management order that may be followed by a management order. This means that the Council will take control of the HMO and manage it. Please see our current list of  Management Orders and Interim Management Orders

Revoking or refusing licences

If the Council has evidence to show that you have contravened housing law then it may decide to revoke your licence, or refuse to grant you a licence on the basis that you are not a fit and proper person.

Furthermore, if you are a licence holder or a manager of other HMOs then these licences could also be revoked. For the HMO to continue to operate you would have to make alternative arrangements for someone else to hold the licence and/or manage the HMO. There are restrictions on who this other person can be, and they would have to accept responsibility for complying with the conditions of licence.

Reporting an Unlicensed HMO

If you believe that a property is in active use as an HMO and that the landlord has not applied for a licence, you can use our online reporting form to make us aware of this property. You need to register on the Online Portal. If you are already registered (since September 2022), you can just log in. Then go to Service Requests section select Reporting Unlicensed HMOs option. You will be required to provide some basic information in order for us to investigate. Please note that a property has to be in use as an HMO - ie, it must have three or more tenants living in it - for us to require a licence application from the landlord.  If you believe that a property is being converted into an HMO and you do not want it to be, we are not able to take any action.

If you are experiencing anti-social behaviour or noise nuisance from any property, please contact our Anti-social behaviour team.

Housing Enforcement action

Where action has been taken by our Enforcement Team we regularly publish Prosecutions, financial penalties and rent repayment orders. We also publish our Housing Enforcement Action Data.

HMO licensing

Address: PO Box 15
Council House
Earl Street

Telephone: 024 7697 5467

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