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HMO Licensing

The Housing Act 2004 aims to improve housing standards for tenants renting accommodation in the private rented sector.

Terraced-HousesThe legislation introduced a number of measures that impact on the private rented sector and in particular the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

The law requires that certain types of rented property are licensed in order to meet standards that ensure a house is safe for the occupants and that the landlord is competent, qualified and the most appropriate person to manage it.

HMO licensing lays down fire safety requirements and applies standards relating to kitchen and bathroom facilities. It will set maximum occupancy limits and control ongoing management standards.

In addition, the Additional Licensing Schemes for Cathays and Plasnewydd in Cardiff also look to tackle wider community issues such as waste, anti-social behaviour, energy efficiency and property security.


What is a HMO and are all HMOs licensable?

A House in Multiple Occupation(HMO) is a building, or part of a building, that:

  • is occupied by more than two individuals who do not form a single household, and
  • is occupied by those individuals as their only or main residence, and
  • rent is payable by at least one of the occupiers, and
  • two or more households share one or more basic amenities.

Purpose built blocks of self-contained flats are not HMOs, but houses or buildings that have been converted into a block of flats may be a HMO if:

  • the standard of conversion does not comply with the 1991 Building Regulations; and
  • less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied.

Whilst the Housing Act 2004 requires that certain types of HMO are licensed (mandatory licensing – see below) not all HMOs are licensable, but where HMOs do not require a licence, they are still subject to certain requirements in terms of fire safety, amenities and general management.  Where an area of Additional Licensing is designated, the Council can decide on which type of HMO is covered by the scheme.  The Council is able to advise landlords and tenants on the requirements.  Please contact 035… for more information. 

Do I need to apply for a HMO Licence?
  • If your HMO has 3 or more storeys with five or more occupants made up of at least two households and is located anywhere in Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan or Bridgend area you will need a Mandatory HMO Licence.
  • If you own or manage a HMO of any type or size in the Cathays or Plasnewydd area of Cardiff which is not subject to mandatory licensing, you will need to apply for an Additional HMO Licence.  Similarly, if you own or manage a HMO which isn’t subject to mandatory licensing in the Castleland Renewal Area in Vale of Glamorgan, you will need to apply for an Additional Licence.
  • There are currently no areas of selective licensing.
  • If you are unsure whether a property you own or manage is licensable please contact the Council on 035…….
What are the standards which licensing looks to address?

Licensing takes into consideration many aspects from property condition to property management, anti-social behaviour and security.  Licence conditions cover many issues including fire safety and amenities, both of which are subject to specific standards – see related links below for further information.

In addition to licence conditions which are issued as part of any HMO licence, the Council will also look for issues relating to health and safety within HMOs, having regard to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).  The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is the government’s approach to evaluating potential risks of housing conditions on health.

29 categories of housing hazard are assessed under the system. Each hazard has a weighting which will help determine whether the property is rated as having category 1 (serious) or category 2 (other) hazards.

Local authorities have a general duty to make sure that housing conditions are maintained and that residents are not at risk due to health and safety hazards within their property.

Following an assessment of a property, appropriate action will be taken to ensure landlords address any hazards identified.




You may appeal against any decision made to either license or not licence your property. Please appeal in writing to:

The Residential Property Tribunal Wales
Oak House
Cleppa Park
Celtic Springs
NP10 8BD

By Phone: 03000 252 777
By E-mail: 
By Fax: 03000 256 146