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 violating any licence conditions is a serious offence. It may result in  a civil penalty of up to £30,000 or prosecution action leading to an unlimited fine upon summary conviction.


Should you require an assisted application – please contact our Support Team on 01923 278 503 or email us.  Additional Charges apply.

Please ensure when applying for a HMO Licence, you complete all sections that apply to you and have read and understood all details, ticking the declaration box in Section 20. Please also complete and sign the Fit and Proper person declaration form (12kB).

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

Our Service aim is to grant an approved HMO Licence within twelve (12) weeks from the receipt date of a valid application. Timescales may vary depending on individual application details.

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


New Application Fee -  £1,474.90

New Application Fee Registered Charities - £1,175.30

Renewal Fee - £1,227.20

Renewal Fee Registered Charities - £981.70

Assisted HMO licence application - £342.30. An assisted application is available, if you need help with your application and would like an officer to complete it on your behalf (this is in addition to the fee for the renewal or new application).

Fast track licence application - £380.30. A fast track fee only covers the HMO Licence application being validated and assigned to an Officer within 5 days. It does not cover the whole HMO Licence process (this is in addition to the fee for the renewal or new application).

Living space

We will assess the property to ensure there are enough kitchens and bathrooms for the number of occupants.

The rooms must be of sufficient size. For more detail, please see our amenity and space guidance (PDF 527kB).

Fire safety

Different levels of fire safety precautions are needed depending on the building and how it’s arranged. A protected means of escape in case of fire is essential.

To determine the upgrades needed you should carry out a fire risk assessment (PDF 58kB).

Further advice is available in the guide (PDF 1.75MB).

Failing to follow the government guidance is a criminal offence and can lead to an unlimited fine.

Housing conditions

The property must follow basic standards relating to housing conditions.

We have created services to help you through this process, ranging from free advice to surveys and tailored reports.

Planning permission

Before converting a property to an HMO you should check if you need planning permission. This is separate from an HMO licence. For further information please contact Watford’s planning department for advice.

If you are given planning permission this does not mean that you have an HMO licence.  And if you have an HMO licence this does not mean you have planning permission.

Public register

Our 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.

The register is updated on a monthly basis.

Complain about your rented property

If you wish to make a complaint about the condition of your rented property and have already unsuccessfully spoken with your landlord please contact us.

More information
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