If the House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) is property that has five or more unrelated people occupying it, then a licence is required from the council.
Since October 2018 an HMO must be licensed if it is a building occupied by five or more unrelated people please read the HMO FAQs for more details. If you require clarification as to whether your property needs a licence please contact us to discuss.
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What is the procedure?
Once we have received your application form and fee, we then check to see if we have everything we need for a valid application. Please provide;
- A fully completed and signed application form
- All required enclosures as outlined in the application form (Part 7 Licence Application Form, Part 6 Renewal Licence Application Form)
- The full licence fee
Once the application is deemed valid, we will write to you to arrange a licence inspection. In the meantime we will consult with other departments in The Council to check that the licence holder and manager is a 'fit and proper' person. Providing nothing is identified at the inspection or during the consultation, we send a notice of intent to grant a licence to all relevant parties giving 21 days to make representation. If no representation is received within 21 days then we will issue the licence.
What happens if I do not apply for a Licence?
It is a criminal offence under Section 72 (1) of the Housing Act 2004 to operate a licensable HMO without having made a valid application. There are several penalties for operating an unlicensed HMO, i.e.
- If convicted at a magistrate court, an unlimited fine and a criminal record.
- The council can issue a civil penalty or fine, of up to £30,000 per offence.
- A rent repayment order can be made to the First Tier Property Chamber who can award the repayment of rent paid by the tenants of an unlicensed HMO for up to a year.
- Section 21 Notices to Quit are not valid whilst an HMO remains unlicensed.
- Any enforcement action will be taken into account when deciding whether you are a 'fit and proper person' to hold a licence. Repeated offences may result in your inclusion in the Government's database of rogue landlords and property agents.
How much does it cost?
There is a fee payable by the landlord to cover the cost of processing the licence application and inspecting the property to determine whether it meets the relevant standards. The fees vary and will depend on how many people you wish to have occupying the property.
Please note: Change to licence fee payment procedure:
The fee structure is outlined in the box below. The full licence fee must be paid on submission of the application. On receipt of an application without a prior request by the Council, the application will be reviewed. If it is deemed to be valid (as described above), the Council may provide a discretionary refund of £200. A further 10% of the fee will be refunded if a valid application had been made to the Partnership Accreditation for Landlords Scheme (PAL). Further details are available at www.pal-online.org.uk.
If a valid application is not received, the full fee will stand and no refund will be given.
Application/Renewal for a basic 5 person HMO**
Application/Renewal for an HMO with between 6 and 10 persons**
Application/Renewal for an HMO with 11 or more persons**
**A discount of £200 will be applied for those applications which are valid for licenses that are received without a request from the Local Authority. This will also apply for licence renewals received within a specified time given by the Local Authority. Also, a discount of 10% will apply to accredited landlords.
Housing Act Notice*
* A fixed charge of £325 will applied for any single notice served. In addition an hourly rate of £45 will be added where multiple notices are served, and for the total amount of time taken to produce the single notice when it exceeds £310 (7.4 hours).
How to pay
If you choose to submit an online application, then instructions will be given on how to pay with a debit/credit card when filling the electronic form in. Otherwise, if you choose to send in your application by post, you can pay by cheque, made payable to 'Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council'. You can also contact the Private Sector Housing Team on 01707 357 584 and pay by debit/credit card over the phone.
How long will it take to get my licence?
It would typically take 3 months for a straight forward application, but it could take up to 12 months depending on circumstances.
How long is the licence valid for?
A licence will normally last for a maximum of five years from the date it became licensable.
Is there a fee to amend my licence?
No, but as part of the licence conditions, you must inform us of any changes to the licence holder or manager, which includes change of address. If you wish to amend the number of people on your licence, then we will need to carry out an inspection to check on room sizes and amenities. To make a change to your licence please email email@example.com.
A licence is non transferable, therefore a new licence application will need to be submitted if the licence holder changes. To apply for a new licence click here.
Do I need planning permission to convert my house to a HMO?
Please see our planning page for more information on the Hatfield Article 4 Directive and the Welwyn Garden City Estate Management Scheme (EMS).
Does Tacit Consent apply?
Under the Provision of Services Regulations 2009, tacit consent does not apply to these applications for overriding interests of public safety in securing that the premises are safe before they may be licensed. Therefore you may not use the premises until an application for a licence has been made.