Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

Houses in Multiple Occupation Licensing


  • What is a licensable HMO from 1 October 2018
  • How to check whether your property will require a licence
  • Register for further information on changes to HMO licensing
  • Fees & charges

HMOs that require a licence

Not all HMOs require a licence and licensing requirements vary between local authority areas.

From 1 October 2018 many more HMOs across England require a licence.

In Colchester this includes houses and flats that are:

  • Occupied by 5 or more people;
  • Who form 2 or more households (i.e. the occupiers are not all members of the same family);
  • And who generally share 1 more basic amenity (i.e. kitchen, bathroom, or toilet)

Please note there are some exceptions to this – use the licence checker tool to be sure!

Licence Checker Tool

It is illegal to operate or manage an HMO within this description without a licence.

If you have any doubts regarding the status of a building then take specialist advice and/or check the relevant law.

We are prepared for a large increase in the number of HMOs in Colchester that will require a licence. The licence application process has been changed to improve efficiency and user-experience. The intention is to fast track licence applications which demonstrate that HMOs are well managed to current standards whilst focussing our resources on enforcement action for those failing to licence and/or not up to standard.

To support this we are updating the Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy to make use of the full range of sanctions available including penalties of up to £30,000, rent repayment orders and banning orders.

How to prepare

The application process will require you to submit supporting documents in electronic format and to pay an initial application fee. 

Read our earlier published guidance to ensure that you have the supporting documents that you will need when you apply. 


How to Apply

Please apply using the online application form below:

Apply here

To submit your supporting documents, please email them to with the address of the licensable property in the subject line of your email.

On receipt of your application, we will be in touch to request your initial application payment.

Your application is incomplete until the supporting documents have been submitted and the initial payment has been made.

If you require any assistance or have any questions regarding the application form or process, please email

Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities in the Private Rented Sector

A document has been produced and is available here to help both landlords and tenants. It sets out the roles and responsibilities of both parties when letting or renting a property in the private rented sector.



Tel: 01206 282581 - option 6