Private Rented Housing
Policy for HMO Licensing and Regulation
1.1 The Housing Act 2004 radically overhauls the way the Council regulates standards
in private rented housing. It also introduces compulsory licensing of certain houses
in multiple occupation (HMO) see 3.2 below for definition. These changes are due
to come into force on 6 April 2006.
1.2 Richmondshire District Council aims to ensure that private rented accommodation
is of a decent standard to protect the health and safety of tenants. The Council
sees the new legislation as an opportunity to improve the services provided by
landlords and provide decent homes for tenants.
1.3 This policy sets out the way the Council will implement the requirements of the
Housing Act 2004 in relation to HMO licensing and health and safety hazards.
2. The Wider Picture
2.1 This policy is written in the context of Richmondshire District Council’s Housing
3. HMO Licensing
3.1 The aim of HMO licensing is to improve controls of HMOs, including mandatory
licensing of some of the highest risk properties, which house some of the most
vulnerable people, while maintaining an adequate supply of rented
3.2 An HMO is a building occupied by more than one household and includes hostels,
shared houses, and houses containing bedsits.
The Housing Act 2004 includes a new definition of households, which is a family
unit, including single persons and co-habiting couples (whether or not of opposite
3.3 HMOs of three or more stories, with five or more occupiers must be licensed.
There are exemptions such as social housing, HMOs owned by the police, health
authorities, universities and some other listed organisations, and buildings
converted into flats which meet the relevant 1991 Building Regulation standards.
3.4 Licences will be granted where the house is reasonably suitable for occupation as
an HMO, the management arrangements are satisfactory and the licensee and
manager are fit and proper persons. The applicant must be the most appropriate
person to hold the licence. A member of the Environmental Protection team may
visit before licensing a HMO to assess compliance with the licensing requirements
and the number of people the HMO should be licensed for.
3.5 The Council is required to assess whether the applicant and any manager and any
person associated with them or formerly associated with them are fit and proper
people to own or manage an HMO. This information will be obtained through the
application form and a Criminal Record Bureau Check if necessary.
A person will be considered fit and proper if the Council is satisfied that:
they have no unspent convictions relating to offences involving fraud,
dishonesty, violence or drugs, or sexual offences
they have no unspent convictions relating to unlawful discrimination on
grounds of sex, race, or disability
they have no unspent convictions relating to housing or landlord and tenant
they have not been refused a HMO licence, been convicted of breaching the
conditions of a licence or have acted otherwise than in accordance with the
approved code of practice under S197 of the Act within the last five years
they have not been in control of a property subject to an HMO Control Order
an Interim Management Order or Final Management Order or work in
default carried out by a Local Authority
they have not been subject to legal proceedings by a Local Authority for
breaches of planning, compulsory purchase, environmental protection
legislation or other relevant legislation.
3.6 Licences will be valid for five years and will specify the maximum number of
occupiers or households. The occupancy number will depend on the number and
size of rooms and the kitchen and bathroom facilities.
3.7 The following mandatory conditions must be applied to all licences:
to provide copies of gas safety certificates annually
to keep electrical appliances and furniture safe
to keep smoke alarms in working order
to provide tenants with a written tenancy agreement
to demand references for tenants
3.8 Following licensing, HMOs will be prioritised for assessment under the Housing
Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS – see section 5 below). The owner
must deal with all Category 1 hazards within one year of the licence being granted.
If they do not, then the Council is expected to use their enforcement powers to
improve the property.
3.9 The Council may serve a Temporary Exemption Notice (TEN) where a landlord is,
or shortly will be, taking steps to make an HMO non-licensable. A TEN can only be
granted for a maximum period of three months. A second three-month TEN can be
served in exceptional circumstances.
3.10 Where a landlord is convicted for failure to license an HMO, the Council can apply
to the Residential Property Tribunal. The Residential Property Tribunal will replace
the courts and will judge cases relating to offences and appeals under the Act. The
Residential Property Tribunal has the power to request that up to 12 months’ rent
be repaid to the Council where a tenant is on housing benefits. Tenants can also
apply to the Residential Property Tribunal for repayment of any rents they have
3.11 Where there is no prospect of an HMO being licensed, the Act requires that the
Council use its interim management powers. This enables the Council to take over
the management of an HMO and become responsible for running the property and
collecting rent for up to a year. In extreme cases this can be extended to five years
with the Council also having the power to grant tenancies.
3.12 The Council has the power to set up additional HMO licensing schemes in areas
with low housing demand or areas where HMOs are badly managed and are
causing a significant and persistent anti-social behaviour problem.
In Richmondshire there are currently no areas that meet these requirements.
3.13 The majority of HMOs in Richmondshire will not be licensable. This is because the
majority of housing in Richmondshire is low density and below 3 storeys high. Only
a small number of HMOs will meet both criteria of being 3 storeys or above and
having five or more occupants.
4. HMO Licensing Policies
Policy 1 - Encouraging Applications
The Council will encourage landlords to apply for licences using a variety
Publicise the need to license HMOs
Provide information on the Richmondshire District Council website.
Provide an information leaflet.
Send letters and reminders to known landlords.
Send letters to letting agents.
Provide both electronic and paper application forms.
Offer assistance to applicants where resources permit e.g. with completion of
Policy 2 - Fees For Licences
The Council will charge the following license fee bands. Where full
applications are received before July 2006, a 20 percent discount will
Bands Description Fee
Band Properties with maximum permitted occupancy of £360
A between 5-6
Band Properties with maximum permitted occupancy of £410
B between 7-9 persons
Band Properties with maximum permitted occupancy of £490
C between 10-14 persons
Band Properties with maximum permitted occupancy of £550
D more than 15 persons
The fee has been set to cover the Council’s costs of licensing HMOs. See
appendix 1 for the fee structure. The discount for applications received before July
2006 is in order to encourage early applications.
Policy 3 - Rent Repayment Orders
Where a landlord is convicted for failure to license and the rent is paid as
Housing Benefit, the Council will apply to the Residential Property Tribunal
for a Rent Repayment Order and will advise tenants to do the same.
The Council intends to use its powers under the Act to seek rent repayment orders
for repayment of twelve months’ Housing Benefit or for the period since the
landlord was required to license the HMO, if this is less. We will provide other
tenants with information on how to apply.
Policy 4 – HMO Standards
The Council will determine the number of people an HMO is licensed for and
the facilities required in accordance with the prescribed standards.
The prescribed standards are summarised as follows:
In general, one bathroom and toilet per 5 occupants (if facilities are shared).
Bathrooms and toilets to be of an adequate size and layout, suitably located,
and with an adequate supply of hot and cold water.
Kitchens to be equipped with facilities to adequately enable the occupants of
the house to store, prepare and cook food.
Adequate means of space heating must be provided.
Appropriate fire precautionary equipment to be provided in communal areas.
Policy 5 – Management Arrangements
We will expect the licensee to have satisfactory arrangements and funding in
place for the management of the HMO.
Satisfactory arrangements for management will include:
Compliance with the statutory Management Regulations within three
A system for tenants to report defects, including in emergencies.
Arrangements to be in place to respond to those requests.
A process to deal with anti-social behaviour occurring within the HMO by
tenants or their visitors.
Arrangements to be in place for periodic inspections to identify where repair
or maintenance is needed.
If the manager of the HMO is not the owner, then the owner must sign a
declaration stating that adequate funding is available to the manager for repairs.
Policy 6 – Discretionary Licence Conditions
In addition to the mandatory licensing conditions (see 3.7 above), the
Council will apply discretionary conditions to all licences.
These will include:
to provide copies of reports of fire detection and alarm system to the Council
the name, address and telephone number of the licensee or manager to be
displayed in the common parts of the HMO.
a copy of a valid gas safety certificate to be displayed in the common parts.
a copy of the licence to be displayed in the common parts.
The Council will apply other conditions to individual licences with respect to the
use, management and occupation of the HMO where appropriate, and may seek
evidence of compliance with conditions at any time.
Policy 7 – Temporary Exemption Notices
The Council will not routinely grant more than one three month Temporary
Exemption Notice (TEN).
A TEN will be served where an owner of a licensable HMO states in writing that
he/she is taking steps to make an HMO non-licensable and states that the HMO
will not be licensable within three months. The Council does not wish these notices
to be used routinely, and therefore a second TEN will only be acceptable in
exceptional and unforeseen circumstances. Any exception to the policy must be
authorised by the Environment Unit Manager.
Policy 8 - Discretionary HMO Licensing
The Council does not intend to set up any additional discretionary licensing
schemes for HMOs, but will keep this under review.
We are satisfied that there is no need at present to set up any additional licensing
scheme, but we will review this policy annually.
Policy 9 – Bed and Breakfast Hotels
The Council will declare bed and breakfast hotels as HMOs if they are
housing any people who use the hotel as their main residence for more than
30 consecutive days.
We believe that where this accommodation is used as a main residence, the same
standards as for other HMOs should be met.
5. Housing Health and Safety Rating System and Enforcement
5.1 The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) will replace the existing
fitness standard with effect from 6 April 2006. HHSRS is a risk assessment of the
effect of housing conditions on the health of occupiers. It involves the assessment
of 29 potential hazards and scoring of their severity in the property being inspected
to decide whether improvements are needed. If more serious Category 1 hazards
are found then the Council has a duty to require the owner to remedy the defect. If
less serious Category 2 hazards are found, then the Council has discretionary
power to require action.
5.2 The enforcement regime involves a new set of Legal Notices to deal with those
HHSRS hazards requiring improvement, prohibition of the use of the dwelling or
demolition. The notices are similar to those currently used except that a prohibition
notice can be served to prohibit the use of part of a dwelling or use by a description
of high risk persons, for example those aged under five or over 60.
5.3 When a hazard is identified, the Council must decide the most practical course of
action. There is no longer a legal requirement for a prior warning notice to be
served, so the Council will ensure that the landlord and tenant(s) have the
opportunity to discuss the Council’s proposed action before a notice is served.
5.4 An improvement notice will be the most practical remedy for most hazards; repair
or renewal is generally cost-effective because of the high value of property in
Richmondshire. However, prohibition notices may be required on part or all of a
dwelling, for example, where there is inadequate natural lighting or there is no fire
escape from the top floor. The Council can serve suspended improvement notices.
These can be used in circumstances where obtaining other consents will cause
delay – an example would be where planning permission is needed for the
improvement works to be carried out.
6. Housing Health and Safety Rating System Policies
Policy 10 – Category 2 Hazards
The Council will only deal with Category 2 hazards in exceptional
We have a duty to ensure that Category 1 hazards are remedied. We have
discretionary powers to deal with Category 2 hazards, which are lower risk. Our
resources will not allow us to deal with all Category 2 hazards. We will only deal
with these hazards in exceptional circumstances relating to health, vulnerability,
cold and entry by intruders.
Example of a Category 1 Hazard: Dampness throughout a property causing mould
growth and affecting the respiratory health of the tenants.
Example of a Category 2 Hazard: Exposed hot pipes in a bedroom, which could
potentially cause minor scalds.
Policy 11 - Improvement Notices
Where an Improvement Notice is served, the Council will require sufficient
works to abate the hazard for a minimum of five years.
The law prescribes that the minimum works must abate the hazard. We will require
works of a reasonable durability to prevent recurrence. We consider five years to
be reasonable as a minimum time period to ensure that works are undertaken to a
Enforcement action will be part of a range of responses as described in the
Environmental Protection Quality Manual: Procedure for Investigating Complaints.
The action taken will be the most appropriate for each individual circumstance.
Enforcement action will be based upon receipt of a complaint, a licence application
or where an assessment of risk indicates a property is sub-standard. Tenants are
expected to have informed the landlord of the problems with disrepair before
contacting the Council for assistance.
Before serving a notice, we will discuss the need for a notice with the landlord and
tenants, where possible, and will outline the works required. Failure to comply with
a statutory notice will normally lead to Court proceedings.
Proposed HMO License Fee
Calculation of Officer Time
Admin EHO Head of
1 Enquiry received and service request entered 00:15
2 Landlord telephoned, information pack and 00:30
letter sent out
Application form returned
3 Details of application entered onto UNIFORM 00:15
4 Cheque processed 00:15
5 Generate acknowledgement letter and send to 00:30
6 Make up new premises file 00:15
File passed to EHO for action
7 Check application valid e.g. all compulsory 00:30
questions completed and correct fee included
8 Check all particulars entered on computer 00:15
premises record correctly
9 Examine gas safety and other certificates 01:00
submitted with licence for validity
10 Carry out fit and proper person checks with 02:00
other Council services e.g. Council tax,
housing benefit, and external agencies e.g.
other local authorities
11 Visit property to check licence details and 02:00
determine priority for inspection
12 Travel time 00:30
13 Prepare licence documents and letters to all 01:30
14 Enter relevant details on UNIFROM 00:30
15 Check and sign licence documents 00:30
16 Send interested parties licence documents and 00:30
17 Update computer details if necessary, modify, 00:15 00:15
check and sign licence documents
18 Serve licence documents on recipients by post 00:15
19 Minimum of one compliance inspection during 02:00
the period of the license (inc travel)
Total 02:30 11:00 00:30
Total time = 14 hrs
Direct Hourly Costs for Officers
Time Direct Cost Hourly
rate (inc. oncosts)
Admin 2hrs 30min £11.40
EHO 11 hrs £20.56
Head of Environmental Protection 30 min £24.97
Head of Environmental Protection £12.49
Total (including a 10% contingency fee) = £348.15 for a 5 person HMO
Larger HMOs require 20 minutes extra inspection per household, 20 minutes extra
facilities inspection, 20 minutes extra for floorplan and paper work checking = 1 hr EHO
time plus overheads = £20.56
Proposed HMO License Fees
These have been divided into bands, with the average cost for the band given as the fee.
Bands Description Fee
Band A Properties with maximum £360
permitted occupancy of 6
Band B Properties with maximum £410
permitted occupancy of
between 7-9 persons
Band C Properties with maximum £490
permitted occupancy of
between 10-14 persons
Band D Properties with maximum £550
permitted occupancy of
more than 15 persons