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Introduction to HMO and Selective licencing

HMO Frequently Asked Questions

What is HMO?

HMO stands for “House of Multiple Occupation”. Oxford City Council defines a HMO as a property where there is a household of three or more people, forming two or more households whilst sharing facilities such as the bathroom and kitchen. For example three friends living together within a property is considered a HMO or a married couple living with a friend as tenants would also be an HMO. A couple with children renting or a family who own a property and have a lodger would not be classed as an HMO.

What if my property needs a HMO licence?

We offer an in house service where we can apply for your HMO licence for you. We would complete the initial application, pay initial application fees, attend an inspection with the council where they will inspect the property and issue a list of conditions and any remedial work which may need to be completed to enable them to issue the full HMO licence. We have applied for over 160 licences so we will handle the process completely leaving you stress free.

Am I guaranteed to get a HMO licence?

Unfortunately no, the Council has the power to reject your application and restrict the number of HMOs in a particular area. If the house has been continuously occupied as a HMO immediately before 24th February 2012 then it already has planning permission from a C3 class to a C4 HMO but if your property was not let out continuously before this date as a HMO you will need to contact the planning department to apply for change of use. This is very hard to achieve and change of use to a C4 class is only granted if there is less than 20% HMO properties within a 100 meter radius of the property being applied for. The legislation is driven by residents of East Oxford being unhappy at high volumes of student households in particular roads. It’s also important to note that if the property is currently let out to students or professional sharers and then let to a family unit the HMO licence is automatically reverted back to a C3 class and planning permission will need to be applied for to gain back the C4 class and you may never get this back again.

What works will I need to complete to gain the HMO licence?

It all depends on your property if it is a modern build there should not be too much remedial works needed to bring the property up to HMO standard but if you have an older property more works may be needed. It would also depend on the number occupants you have living in the property as this will determine the facilities you will require. There are minimum standards on room sizes, natural light & ventilation into rooms, heating, and kitchen and bathroom facilities in ratio to occupants. Oxford City Council has an amenities and facilities guide which outlines what the council will expect as a minimum standard. This guide covers all aspect of the HMO requirements. We will be able to supply you with estimates for the works required so you can evaluate full costs of required works before committing to anything. The most common examples of work required for an HMO are fire doors to kitchen and living rooms, underlining the stairs to give them at least 30 minute fire protection, key-less exit locks to all external doors so doors can be opened straight away without a key and mains interlinked fire alarm system with a heat alarm in the kitchen and smoke alarms.

Why would you not choose to apply for an HMO?

A few landlords have told us there are a number of reasons why they choose not to apply for an HMO. It is a costly process which deters landlords from applying. We have had landlords paying out in the region of £1006.00 over a five year period for the council charges for a three bedroom apartment with works to bring the property to up to HMO standard on top of that. Also the idea of having to change the character of a property which has original wooden doors is another issue. The council will require some of the doors to be fire doors depending on the size and layout of the property.

How long will the application process take?

There is no standard time for an application it really does depend on the property in question but we would hope to have the application complete within 6 months and then works will need to be completed within the time frames given by the council.

What is the frequency of applying for the HMO licence?

You will need to apply for the initial HMO licence and this will last for one year. The HMO licence will need to then be renewed on an annual basis but we can do all of this for you.