Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)—sanctions

The following Local Government practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)—sanctions
  • HMO offences
  • Failure to hold a licence
  • Failure to meet licence conditions
  • Revocation
  • What happens if the licence is revoked?
  • Management orders
  • Interim management order
  • Procedure
  • Operation
  • More...

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)—sanctions

Enforcement of the HMO licensing regime is the responsibility of the local housing authority (LHA) of the area in which the HMO is located. See Practice Notes: Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)—applying for a licence and Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)—sanctions.

There are a number of infractions of the licensing regime that may attract civil or criminal sanctions. The LHA has discretion as to the method of enforcement of the regime. It must formulate its own policy on enforcement and should ensure that it adheres to that policy when considering sanctions.

HMO offences

Failure to hold a licence

A person managing or controlling a house in multiple occupation (HMO) commits an offence if the HMO requires a licence and, without reasonable excuse, it is not licensed.

To establish the defence, it is not necessarily enough to show a reasonable excuse for failing to apply for a licence. The question is whether there is a reasonable excuse for continuing to manage and control the HMO without one.

It may be a reasonable excuse if the LHA tells the landlord that their property does not need a licence and that they will be told if the situation changes.

It is not necessary for the prosecuting authority to show that the landlord knew that the property was being used as an HMO, although it is

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