A HMO is a ‘house in multiple occupation’. It is a residential property where ‘common areas’ exist and are shared by more than one household. Visit the GOV.UK website for more information about HMOs.

HMOs with 5 or more people are licensable. There are currently 155 licensed HMOs in Warrington.

HMOs and Planning

HMOs with 7 or more occupants will need planning permission in all parts of the Borough. In a small number of areas ('Article 4 Areas'), any change of use to form a house in multiple occupation will need planning permission

View the map of these areas

Guide to HMO licensing

Larger HMOs can be difficult to manage so can often have poorer physical and management standards than other privately rented properties.

As HMOs are the only housing option for some people, the government considers that they must be properly regulated.

Anyone who owns or manages an HMO which falls within the mandatory licensing provisions must apply to the Council for a licence.

All licences will specify the maximum number of people who may live in the HMO as well as the permitted occupancy of each bedroom. All licenses include the following mandatory conditions:

  • A valid and current gas safety certificate, renewed annually.
  • Proof that all electrical appliances and furniture are kept in a safe condition.
  • Provide each occupier with a written statement of the terms on which they occupy the property (i.e. a tenancy agreement).
  • Provision of smoke alarms on each storey used as living accommodation, maintenance of same, supplying on demand, and a declaration as to their condition and positioning.
  • Provision of a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance, maintenance of same and supplying on demand, and a declaration as to their condition and positioning.
  • Provision of sufficient refuse and recycling bins and regular scheduled bin collections.

The council may also apply additional conditions to the license, based on the circumstances.

A licence will normally last for a maximum of five years.  

Licences are not transferable. If the property is sold within five years and the new owner continues to operate it as a licensable HMO, they will need to make a new application.

Prosecutions and fines

It is a criminal offence if the landlord or person in control of the property fails to apply for a licence where this is mandatory or, allows the property to be occupied by more people than are permitted under the licence.

If a criminal offence is found, the landlord or person in control would be subject to an unlimited fee. In addition, contravention of any of the licence conditions can result in a fine up to £5,000.

As an alternative to prosecution for not having a licence, the local authority can issue a civil penalty notice of up to £30,000.

Legislation for HMOs

HMOs are regulated by several pieces of legislation, which determine licensing arrangements and management standards together with amenity and fire safety requirements. The enforcing authority for fire safety standards in all HMOs in Warrington is Warrington Borough Council.

Although the council is only required to licence larger HMOs, the legislation relating to management, amenity and fire standards applies to all HMOs.

Copies of all HMO Regulations can be accessed through legislation.gov.uk

Apply for a HMO licence

You can apply using one of the below options:

Licensing fee for each property is £420.

Fee reductions:

  • Landlords who are accredited under the Cheshire Landlord Accreditation Scheme are entitled to 10% reduction in fees, currently £378
  • The licence fee for registered charities is 50% of the full fee, currently £210.

Your application is not considered to have been made until the fee is paid.

Appeals

The council can refuse a HMO licence if the property doesn’t meet the licence conditions or if the landlord or manager is not a “fit and proper” person.

Landlords can appeal if the council decides to:

  • Refuse a licence.
  • Grant a licence with conditions.
  • Revoke a licence.
  • Vary a licence.
  • Refuse to vary a licence.

Appeals are made to the First-tier tribunal - Property Chamber (Residential Property) in Manchester, normally within 28 days.

Ceasing to operate as a HMO

A landlord, or person having control of a property, can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice, if:

  • They intend to stop operating the property as a HMO; or 
  • They reduce the number of occupants and can give clear evidence of this.

A Temporary Exemption Notice can last up to three months and ensures that a property in the process of being converted from a HMO does not need to be licensed.

If the situation is not resolved within three months, a second Temporary Exemption Notice can be issued. When this runs out, the property must be licensed, become subject to an Interim or Final Management Order or cease to operate as an HMO.