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You must apply to us for a licence if you manage or own a HMO that meets certain criteria.

When a licence is required

If all of the following apply to your property, you must apply for a HMO licence:

  • It has five or more occupiers comprising two or more separate households, regardless of number of storeys
  • It is a house or self-contained flat but is not a purpose-built flat situated in a block comprising three or more self-contained flats
  • Some or all of the occupants share amenities such as bathrooms, toilets or cooking facilities
  • At least one of the occupants pays rent, or the accommodation is linked to their employment
  • It is the occupiers' main residence
  • It is not an exempt property

Operating a licensable HMO without a licence is an offence which can lead to a financial penalty or a conviction in court.

The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation Order fully defines when a HMO licence is required.

The government has produced HMO licencing guidance

Fit and proper person

Licences can only be granted to applicants who are the most appropriate person to hold the licence and are fit and proper, for example they have no criminal record or breach of landlord laws or code of practice.

Any proposed manager that has control of the house must also be a fit and proper person.

Planning permission

Planning permission is required for HMOs occupied by seven or more people.

View our Planning section for more information about applying for permission.

Exempt properties

Some properties are exempt from the regulations and do not need a HMO licence, namely:

  • Buildings or part of buildings, occupied by no more than two households each of which comprise a single person
  • Buildings occupied by a resident landlord with up to two tenants
  • Buildings managed or owned by a public body (such as the police or the NHS) or a registered social landlord
  • Where the residential accommodation is ancillary to the principal use of the building (e.g. religious establishments)
  • Student halls of residence, where the educational establishment has signed up to an Approved Code of Practice
  • Buildings regulated otherwise than under the Act, such as care homes, bail hostels etc
  • Buildings entirely occupied by freeholders or long leaseholders

Pre-application advice

Our website should provide most of the advice required by landlords who wish to manage a HMO. If the information you require can't be found, the Environmental Health (Private Sector Housing) Service can answer brief queries about HMO licensing.

Send your enquiry to

In-depth advice

You can get more in-depth advice for 90 minutes. During this time plans can be examined and/or a site visit be conducted, plus you can receive feedback and ask questions.

The advice costs £180 (including VAT). Fees can be paid by BACS transfer or a cheque made payable to London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

Email requesting pre-application advice and an officer will contact you and provide more details about making payment.

Licence fees

There are two fees to pay:

  1. The ‘fee on application’ covers the cost of administration and inspection. This payment is based on the number of rooms being let and should be made with the application
  2. The ‘fee on grant of licence’ covers the cost of the overall management of the HMO licence. This payment is payable just before the licence is granted
Standard HMO licence and re-licence fees
No. bedrooms ('units of accommodation' or 'households') Fee on application Fee on grant of licence Total fee
3 £978 £628 £1,606
4 £1,033 £628 £1,661
5 £1,088 £628 £1,716
6 £1,143 £628 £1,771
7 £1,198 £628 £1,826
8 £1,253 £628 £1,881
9 £1,308 £628 £1,936
10+ £1,363 £628 £1,991

For HMOs with more than 10 units of accommodation, an additional pro rata fee on the same scale will be applied for each unit of accommodation above 10.

The current fee structure for a HMO licence was introduced by the Executive on 3 July 2017. You can read the full report on the decision to set these fees.  


Once a HMO licence is granted, a refund will only be given in exceptional circumstances at our discretion, as the fees are calculated to cover our costs, which may have already been incurred.

How to apply

To apply for a HMO licence complete our HMO licensing application form.

The form explains where to return it, and you can email for details about how to pay the initial 'fee on application'.

Application process

After you have submitted your application you are allowed to operate a HMO, as if you have a licence, until we determine the licence. 

We will review your application to make sure it is complete and the initial fee has been paid.

We will then contact you to arrange to inspect the property to make sure it is suitable. An officer will inform you if:

  • Any changes are needed to the property before a licence can be granted
  • A licence can be granted subject to additional conditions
  • A licence will be refused

In most cases, properties can be made suitable if required improvements are made, although the officer will determine the maximum number of occupants the HMO is suitable to accommodate bearing in mind the size of the HMO, the number and size of rooms and the amenities provided.

If you have not heard from us within four weeks of making the application, email

Appeal a condition or decision

If you want to appeal against a condition attached to your licence or you have been refused a licence, you may appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal.

Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made.

Regulations and standards 

All HMO managers and owners must comply with certain regulations and standards

Renew, vary or revoke your licence 

Find out how to renew, vary, or revoke your HMO licence

Updated: 04 June 2024

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