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From 1 October 2018, any rental property occupied by five or more tenants as their only or main residence must be licensed if the tenants share kitchen or bathroom facilities. The property can occupy any number of floors.  This follows a change in the law regarding the licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) under the provisions of the Housing Act 2004.

Changes to mandatory HMO licensing

The licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) will change on 1 October, when the extension of mandatory licensing is introduced.  Cambridge City Council is now accepting licence applications for HMOs that are licensable from 1 October 2018.

Currently a property needs an HMO licence if it comprises three or more storeys and houses five or more people in two or more households.  A change in the law means that a licensable HMO will now be defined as:

  • a property occupied by five or more people forming two or more separate households, or
  • a purpose-built flat in a block of up to two flats and occupied as an HMO by five or more people

Landlords and managers of properties affected by the change must apply for a licence from us before 1 October.  Failure to do so is a criminal offence.

HMO landlords must comply with thManagement of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006, which stipulate the roles and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants.

The change in the law is intended to improve the standards and safety of rented accommodation in the UK.  It will increase the range of measures available to local housing authorities with which to tackle rogue landlords.


Cambridge City Council aims to process licence applications within six weeks of receipt of the application form and relevant fee.

Licences will be granted if:

  • the house is or can be made suitable for multiple occupation
  • the applicant is a fit and proper person and the most appropriate person to hold the licence
  • the proposed manager has control of the house, and is a fit and proper person to be the manager
  • the management arrangements are satisfactory.

Extra conditions may be added to individual licenses, as necessary, by Cambridge City Council, e.g. a formal licence condition to prove competence in property management.


[Source: Cambridge City Council, 28 September 2018]

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