Greenwich

Apply for a HMO licence

Check if you need a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence and apply

You must have a licence to let each property in Royal Greenwich you operate as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). It's a criminal offence to operate a HMO without a licence - you could face an unlimited fine if you deliberately avoid licensing.

If you aren't sure what a HMO is, refer to our HMO guide for landlords.

Royal Borough of Greenwich operates an additional HMO licensing scheme, which means all HMO properties need to be licensed, not just those under the Government's mandatory scheme. To check whether you need to have a licence, start an application below.

If you have a HMO outside of Royal Greenwich, you'll need to check with the relevant local authority to find out if you need a licence.

Exemptions

By law, some HMOs don't need a HMO licence. These exemptions are set by the Government, not the Council. Expand the link below to find out if your property is exempted.

Properties that don't need a licence

You don't need a HMO licence if the property is exempted by law, for example if:

  • it doesn't currently have a tenant living in it, or that won't be let
  • it's for student accommodation such as halls of residence, but only if it's directly managed by an educational institution
  • the rooms or dwellings are let as short-term accommodation on a commercial basis - for example a 'host family' arrangement for foreign students, a holiday let, or Airbnb (but if one room is let as the main residence of a tenant, the property may need a licence)
  • is part of a Shared Lives or similar adult placement scheme where up to three adult placements, plus their carers, live at the property
  • the Council places tenants into the property under the Royal Borough of Greenwich social lettings scheme
  • it's managed by a Registered Provider (such as a housing association or registered social landlord), or the Council
  • it's a purpose-built block of flats (although individual flats that are HMOs will need to be licensed)
  • it's occupied principally for the purposes of a religious community whose principal occupation is prayer, contemplation, education or the relief of suffering
  • it's run or managed by public bodies such as the Police or probation services.

Please note: There are no exemptions for registered housing charities.

How long the licence lasts

Most licences will run for the duration of the licensing scheme. For example, if you applied on the day the scheme starts, the licence would last five years. If you apply one year after the scheme starts, your licence will last four years.

In some cases, such as where there's history of previous mismanagement, use without planning permission, or enforcement action, the Council may issue a licence for a shorter period of time to allow for checks to take place.

In all cases, you'll need to renew the licence at the end of the licence period.

For the licence to remain valid, you'll need to send us updated documents, such as gas safety certificates.

Licence fee

The fee depends on factors such as the number of habitable rooms (rooms used for sleeping or flats in a self-contained block). When you apply, we'll automatically calculate this. You can also refer to the table below:

HMO licence fees

Fee type

With early bird discount

Normal fee

Standard

£145 per unit

£377 per unit

Member of a landlord's professional association or accreditation scheme

£116 per unit

£261 per unit

The early bird discount will be available for the first six months of the scheme and ends on 18 March 2018.

The fees are VAT-exempt. The cost of the fees is a valid business expense for tax purposes.

You'll have to pay using a credit or debit card when you apply for a licence. There are no instalment plans available. There are no discounts for multiple applications.

Fees are used to cover the cost of administering and enforcing the licensing scheme and will be reviewed regularly.

Examples of landlords' professional or accreditation bodies

Please note that this is not a complete list. If your organisation isn't on the list, email hmo-licensing@royalgreenwich.gov.uk to check if it's eligible for a discount.

Examples of professional landlord and accreditation bodies include:

  • London Landlord Accreditation Scheme
  • National Landlords Association
  • Southern Landlords Association
  • Residential Landlords Association
  • The Guild of Residential Landlords
  • Association of Residential Letting Agents
  • National Approved Lettings Scheme
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
  • UK Association of Letting Agents
  • UK Landlord Accreditation Partnership

How to apply

Licence holders can be the landlord, manager or another person who has control of the property. They must:

  • be over 18 years old
  • pass the 'fit and proper person' test
  • not live abroad unless they appoint a manager
  • not be in prison unless they appoint a manager.

Before you apply

If you don't already have an account, you'll need to register on this website before you begin your application. This will enable you to save an incomplete form and come back to it later.

You should also get the relevant information and documents ready.

Information you need to provide

The form will ask you for some details. It may help save time if you prepare these in advance:

  • credit card or debit card details for payment
  • registration number if you're a company or charity
  • professional landlord organisation membership or registration number if you're a member
  • application reference of any other HMO licence you have with the Royal Borough of Greenwich
  • manager contact details if you appoint someone to manage the HMO
  • contact details of any mortgage company, joint freeholder and other interested parties in the property as we need to inform them of your application.

Documents you need to provide

The application form will prompt you for the documents you'll need to submit, but it may help save time if you prepare electronic versions (such as a scan or photograph) of these in advance:

  • latest gas safety certificate if the property has gas
  • latest Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR - previously known as Periodic Electrical Inspection Report)
  • Portal Appliance Test (PAT) reports if you provide portable electrical equipment such as kettles and microwave ovens
  • latest Energy Performance Certificate
  • latest inspection certificates and/or log book records for your automatic fire detection or emergency lighting systems, if applicable
  • evidence the furniture and fittings you provide comply with fire safety regulations
  • copies of current tenancy agreements
  • copies of inventory lists
  • copy of management contract if you use a managing agent
  • latest asbestos report if there is asbestos in your HMO
  • copy of criminal convictions disclosure for both the licence holder and the manager of the property.

To apply, complete the online form and pay by credit or debit card.

Apply for a HMO licence

After you apply

If you don't need a licence, the application form will inform you and you'll receive a confirmation by email. If you need a licence and have completed your application, you'll receive a confirmation of your application and payment.

We aim to process your application within six weeks. If you submit an 'early bird' application before 1 October 2017, we will begin processing it once the scheme goes live.

The Council will issue a proposed licence with the licence terms or the reasons we can't grant one. We'll consult with all bound and interested parties in the property, including the Fire and Rescue Authority. After the consultation, we'll then issue or refuse to issue the licence. You'll receive full details of this process in your confirmation email.

Please note: The Council must process your application before granting a licence ('tacit consent' won't apply). If you've not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us.

The licence conditions will cover the main regulations and standards you must meet. In some cases, they may also require the manager to go on a training course or restrict occupiers from using some parts of the building.

The Council will inspect every HMO that has a licence to make sure they comply with all requirements and licensing conditions. We'll inspect higher-risk properties first. The level of risk depends on factors such as property condition, how it's managed and its previous history.

Appeals and changes

If you're not satisfied with the decision on a licence application, you can appeal to the First Tier Tribunal within 28 days.

Once a licence is granted, there are separate procedures for varying or revoking it.

You cannot transfer a HMO licence. If you need to change the licence holder, you'll need to make a new licence application and pay the fee.

Refunds

You'll only be entitled to a refund if:

  • your property doesn't need a licence at the time of application (for example, it falls under one of the exemptions)
  • you make a duplicate application.

You're not entitled to a refund if:

  • your property needs to be licensed at the time of application
  • you subsequently sell the property.

Penalties

If you deliberately avoid licensing, the Council will consider taking action using all the powers available. You could face:

  • prosecution, which carries an unlimited fine
  • fines of up to £30,000
  • management orders, where the Council takes over the management of the HMO
  • rent repayment orders, where you'll have to pay back up to 12 months of rent you collected.

In addition, if the Council discovers an unlicensed HMO, we could charge an additional 30 per cent in licence fee when you apply for the licence. This is to cover the costs of finding the unlicensed HMO.

Read the enforcement police for private sector housing