Licensing houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

Licensable HMOs

Apply to licence a house in multiple occupation (HMO)

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) require a licence if they are occupied by:

  • five or more people from
  • two or more households

If you have or would like to set up a licensable HMO, then you must apply to the council for a licence. A licence lasts up to five years.

Operating a licensable HMO without a licence or breaching any conditions attached to a licence is a serious criminal offence for which the Council may issue a civil penalty of up to £30,000 or take prosecution action that could result in an unlimited fine upon summary conviction.


The easiest way to apply is via the website. You can apply for a new licence or to renew your existing licence.

If you are unsure if your property needs a licence then please contact us.


New Application Fee -  £1,280

New Application Fee Registered Charities - £1,020

Renewal Fee - £1,065

Renewal Fee Registered Charities - £852

Fast track process of licence application for new or renewals (within 5 days) - £330

Changes To Mandatory Licencing:

In February 2018, the Government announced changes to the current licensing scheme. From October 2018, all HMOs occupied by five or more people from two or more households will require a licence.

Public Register:

If you want to check that an HMO is licensed, HMO Public Register (PDF 1.44MB) contains all the HMOs that are currently licensed in Watford. Other information, such as the licence holder and conditions on the licence, are also on the register as required by the Housing Act 2004.

The register is updated on a monthly basis.

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