Houses in multiple occupation

If you rent rooms or flats within a property to at least three tenants who form more than one household, then it’s likely to be a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). 

How storeys are counted in HMOs

A basement counts as a storey if:

  • it is used for living accommodation
  • it has been adapted for living accommodation (might be unoccupied)
  • it is being used as an important part of the HMO
  • it is the main entrance from the street into the HMO

Any loft counts as a storey if:

  • it is used for living accommodation
  • it has been adapted for living accommodation (might be unoccupied)
  • it is being used as a part of the HMO
  • it has living accommodation situated above or below a business premises. All floors of the business premises occupies will then be counted

A mezzanine floor counts as a storey if:

  • it is used for living accommodation
  • it is used as part of the rest of the HMO in a major way

A mezzanine floor won’t be counted as a storey if it is only used as access between two floors.

How one household is counted

A household can be:

  • a single person
  • relatives who are living together, including step-children and foster children
  • people who are married or living together

For further information about HMO standards, email the team or contact Housing Enforcement on 020 8379 1000.

Licence application process

It’s a legal requirement under the Housing Act for certain HMOs to have a licence. From 1 April 2017, we charge £130 per let within a property. Either the owner or the manager should make the application.

Applicants must be considered to be a fit and proper person. A fit and proper person is someone who hasn’t committed fraud, violence, drug offences, or sexual offences. There must also be no evidence against them of unlawful discrimination in business, violating housing law or breaching codes of practice. Spouses or close associates of proposed licence holders should also not have committed any of these offences.

An HMO requires a mandatory licence if:

  • the property has three or more storeys
  • it’s occupied by five or more tenants, forming more than one household
  • one or more of the facilities are shared, for example, a kitchen or bathroom

Some HMOs which fall outside of the above definitions don’t require a licence. However, they need to comply with the relevant legislation. This includes providing amenities appropriate for the number of residents. As a general rule, this is one bathroom and kitchen for every five people.

Fire detection and a protected escape route are also required. We work jointly with the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LF&EPA) to identify fire hazards in HMOs and share information. We educate landlords, agents and owners on how to comply with Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS). When necessary, we will carry out a joint inspection with the LF&EPA.

How to apply

To apply, fill in our HMO application form (PDF) and mail it to:

HMO Licensing
Private Sector Housing Standards
Enfield Council
PO Box 57
Civic Centre

How long the licence application takes to process

We aim to process licence applications within 42 days of receipt of a valid application.

A valid application must include a completed application form, all relevant certificates and the correct licensing fee. We will carry out relevant checks and an inspection of the property.

The decision will then be made whether to grant or refuse a licence.

The length of the application process may vary depending on the circumstances of each property or the number of applications we have received. As long as a landlord has submitted an application, the HMO can continue to operate legally until we reach a decision and any appeals against that decision are completed.

What you can do about the licence decision

If a licence is refused and you want to appeal against it, you can contact the Residential Property Tribunal Service within 28 days on 020 7446 7700 or visit the Residential Property Tribunal website.

HMO licence register

You can view the restricted register by visiting HMO License Register.

We can send you a copy of the full version of the register for a fee of £112, or you can view it for free by visiting our main offices during the opening hours. If you wish to request a copy or make an appointment to view the register, email the team.

Renewing an HMO licence

You will need to send us a valid application at least one month before expiry of the current licence, to allow time for checks to be made and an inspection to be carried out.

To apply, fill in an HMO renewal form (PDF,) and email it to HMO Licensing or post it to:

HMO Licensing
Private Sector Housing Standards
Enfield Council
PO Box 57
Civic Centre

Variation of an HMO licence

You can make changes to an existing licence, such as a change of: 

  • agent/company managing the house
  • address for the landlord
  • occupancy level in the house

For further advice, email the team.

Safety inspections

HMOs are inspected for disrepair, inadequate facilities, fire safety, general mismanagement and overcrowding. and to ensure they meet minimum standards. We use Housing Health and Safety Ratings System (HHSRS) to identify and rate hazards that are found. This is to ensure properties in Enfield are safe to live in.


We work closely with landlords and agents to improve conditions. If we have to take enforcement action, the following charges will apply:

Section 49 & 50 of Housing Act 2004 gives us the power to make a charge to recover certain reasonable expenses incurred in serving formal notices. A charge will normally be made where it has been necessary to take one of these enforcement actions:

  • serving an improvement notice under section 11 or 12
  • making a prohibition order under section 20 or 21
  • serving a hazard awareness notice under section 28 or 29
  • taking emergency remedial action under section 40
  • making an emergency prohibition order under section 43
  • making a demolition order under section 46
  • reviewing a suspended improvement notice under section 17
  • reviewing a suspended prohibition order under section 26

If we decide to take formal action to deal with hazards, the following standard fees may apply:

Type Fee
Hazard awareness notice (if subsequent notice is required £178
Improvement notice £357
Prohibition order £357
Emergency prohibition order £357
Emergency remedial action £357
Demolition order £357
Review of suspended improvement notice £204
Review of suspended prohibition order £204
Charge for any subsequent notice served at the same time for the same property £153

Management regulations

The regulations impose duties on managers of HMOs for the repair, maintenance, cleanliness and good order of the property, facilities and equipment in it.

Managers should:

  • provide occupiers with contact information
  • maintain all fire safety measures
  • protect occupiers from injury
  • maintain water, drainage, gas and electricity supplies
  • maintain common parts and installations
  • ensure properties are clean and fit at the time of letting and maintained
  • provide rubbish disposal facilities

If any contravention(s) to the regulations are identified in the property, you will be provided with a schedule of works detailing the regulation, the contravention and the work needed to remedy it within a set timescale. If it is not completed, you risk prosecution by the council. If you’re found guilty of an offence, you will be liable to a fine.

For more information, contact our Housing Enforcement team on 020 8379 1000 or visit:

Household rubbish and recycling

The landlord must:

  • give written information to tenants at the start of their tenancy to make sure they understand their responsibilities for the correct storage and disposal of household rubbish and recycling. This information should include how to:
    • separate and store household rubbish and recycling and put out for collection
    • dispose of bulky household items
    • access communal rubbish and recycling bins in secure areas
  • provide tenants with enough rubbish and recycling bins for the number of occupants, and make sure recycling can be separated
  • include rubbish and recycling bins in the tenancy agreement inventory
  • put clear signage on or near the bins to show how to separate items
  • keep gardens, outbuildings and other external areas free from rubbish and fly-tipping by clearing the rubbish themselves or employing a third-party
  • carry out regular checks to ensure tenants are complying with their responsibilities to separate, store and put rubbish and recycling out for collection
  • make sure we can access bins on collection day (this may mean providing an access key or code)

Changes to Mandatory HMO Licensing

Mandatory HMO licensing is restricted to properties that have:

  • three or more storeys
  • five or more people forming more than one household
  • shared facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom

The following changes are being proposed under new plans:

  • Remove the storey rule so all houses with five or more people that form more than one household are mandatory licensable
  • Extend licensing to flats above and below business premises (regardless of storeys)
  • Set a minimum size of 6.52sq-m for a single room and 10.23 sq-m for a double room. This is in line with the overcrowding standard, but allows the council to set a higher standard
  • Additional information required during the ‘fit and proper person’ tests

If a landlord or agent fails to obtain a licence they could be liable to pay a potentially unlimited fine.

In 2016, a consultation paper of the proposal was released to gather views on the changes and ensure the legislation is clear when applied.

The changes will be implemented in late 2018. We will update our website as information becomes available.