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HMO Licensing

The licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) was introduced in The Housing Act 2004 to make sure that Councils are aware:

  • That high risk HMOs, that being three or more storeys were suitable for occupation, safe and
  • landlords of HMOs are fit and proper people, or employ managers who are
  • and that the properties are managed properly


What is a licensable HMO?

A HMO must be licensed if the property is three or more storeys (storeys include basement, loft conversions and commercial premises); is occupied by five or more people who form two or more households; and there is some sharing of amenities. 

This is a Mandatory Licence and if you own or manage a property which matches this description, and it is not licensed, you should complete an Application Form for a HMO Licence or contact us immediately to discuss your options. 


If you chose to be licensed or are licensable then a Housing Health and Safety Rating System inspection will need to be carried out and checked against Management regulations and amenities. The documents relating to management and amenities can be found in the Downloads box on the right of this page.


If there are issues that need to be resolved after the initial HHSRS inspection and before the licence can be issued, the landlord will be given a reasonable time to complete the work or take alternative action such as returning the house to single occupation or reducing the number of tenancies this may involve applying for a Temporary Exemption Notice. In certain circumstances a schedule of works may be issued as a condition of a licence.

Failure to apply for a licence could lead to prosecution; a hefty fine; and possible disqualification from running HMOs. 


By law, all licensed HMOs must be available for public viewing. Click here to view a record of HMO Licensed properties within the borough.   


To Apply

You can download the relevant application form or complete the form online and pay below:

  • Application to licence a house in multiple occupation - click here to apply online 

pdf icon Application Form for a HMO Licence - click here to download an Application Form [212kb]

pdf icon Colchester Landlord's guide to Mandatory HMO Licensing - January 2011 [46kb]

pdf icon Application to vary a licence for a house in multiple occupation [43kb] Note: this only applies to conditions, numbers of occupants and amenities etc on the licence and not to changes in licence holder, manager details or owner as licences cannot be transferred to another person.

pdf icon Application to renew a licence for a house in multiple occupation [78kb]


HMO Licensing Fees & Charges

HMO licence fees are reviewed annually and updated from 1 January. A full breakdown of all relevant fees and charges is shown in the downloads section opposite.

The mandatory provisions for the variation and revocation of licences or the provision of a Temporary Exemption Notice will be completed within 1 month of the receipt of such a request.
All HMO licences issued will be issued within 3 months of receipt of all the relevant documentation and fee (i.e. a valid application has been submitted) and a satisfactory HHSRS inspection.


If you have a licensed HMO and wish to be accredited with the University of Essex under the Student Accommodation Accreditation Scheme, there is no need to pay an additional fee as your property will automatically qualify for accreditation under the scheme. Please contact the Private Sector Housing Team for further information or discuss when making your application.


How to contact us

If you are an owner or manager and wish to inform or discuss with us about an HMO that you own or run and it is licensable you can contact the Private Sector Housing team via Colchester Borough Council's Customer Services based at the Library and Community Hub, Trinity Square, Colchester. The offices are open 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.


Fill in and submit our Private Sector Housing Advice/Complaint Form


Write to us at:    Private Sector Housing Team, Rowan House, 33 Sheepen Road, Colchester CO3 3WG

Telephone us on  01206 282581  Textphone users should dial 18001 01206 282581

Fax: 01206 282598

You can also email us at: housing.private@colchester.gov.uk