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Licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

Last updated 8 November 2015

All HMOs in the borough are now required to be licensed, unless the HMO falls within certain exempted categories

Apply for a licence

Before you apply, check what kind of property licence is required.

There are two types of property licences that are applicable to HMOs, a ‘Mandatory’ HMO licence and a Private Rented Property Licence (PRPL).

The application process and fee structure is different for mandatory and PRPL HMO licence applications, so you should ensure that know which type of licence is required and that the appropriate application is submitted.

Further guidance is provided below, but you can also contact the Council’s Housing Standards team on 020 8496 2227 or via email at if further clarification is required prior to making your application

Mandatory HMO licence

If your HMO has three storeys or more, and is occupied by least five occupiers forming two or more households, you may require a licence from us.

  • ‘Storeys’ means the number of floors within the HMO but also includes lower storeys that are used for non-residential purposes [such as a shop]. So a two-storey HMO above a shop would be regarded as a three-storey HMO.
  • ‘Occupiers’ – includes all persons in the HMO, both adults and any children residing at the address
  • ‘Households’ - A household can be a family, a couple (including same sex couples) or a single person but all unrelated adults that are not a couple, or part of a family, are treated as separate households. A group of more than two students sharing an address would be considered to be living in an HMO even if they had all signed a joint tenancy

Private Rented Property Licensing for non-mandatory HMOs

If your HMO is privately rented but falls outside the scope of mandatory HMO licensing, you may still require a licence from us. This would include, for example, HMOs that are less than three stories in height or HMOs with less than 5 residents.

If your HMO falls in this category, you need to go to the Private Rented Property Licence page and follow the instructions to apply.

Planning permission

HMOs should have a permission that is appropriate to this use. An Article 4 Direction is in place in Waltham Forest, which means that any HMO of three to six persons established after 16 September 2014 [C4 Use Class] will need appropriate planning consent.

The operation of the Article 4 Direction does not affect the longstanding need for larger HMOs accommodating 7 or more persons to have appropriate planning authorisation; this requirement has been in place for many years.

It may be the case that a property owner will be able to demonstrate that a premises has established use as an HMO such that further planning consent is not required.

The Council will take into account the planning status of an HMO as part of the licence application process. Any unauthorised use is likely to be reflected in the decision to grant or refuse the licence or to issue the licence for a shorter period than the usual five year period

Eligibility criteria

  • Applications must be made to Waltham Forest Council
  • You must be a fit and proper person to hold the licence


The Housing Act 2004 requires landlords of certain types of houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) to be licensed by the Local Authority – these are covered by Mandatory HMO licensing.

For more information on mandatory HMO licensing and to identify whether you have a property that needs licensing visit:

See a summary of the regulation relating to this licence on the Communities and Local Government website, by clicking on the link:

Application process

Please provide all the information requested or we will be unable to accept and process your application and it will be rejected.

Licences will be granted if:

  • The house is or can be made suitable for multiple occupation
  • The applicant is a fit and proper person and the most appropriate person to hold the licence
  • The proposed manager has control of the house, and is a fit and proper person to be the manager
  • The management arrangements are satisfactory

We will aim to grant or refuse the licence within 12 weeks.

How the licensing process works

  • On receipt of your application, we will send an acknowledgement letter
  • The property is inspected by a Council Officer. The officer will determine if any improvement works are necessary, which might include the provision of additional amenities such as bathrooms or kitchens, and how many people should occupy the HMO
  • In determining a licence application, the Council will review any available information relating to the proposed licence holder, and any separate manager, against its ‘fit and proper’ criteria
  • Prior to issuing its decision, the Council will issue its proposal to grant or refuse the licence., Documentation, which will include details of any works required and permitted numbers who will be allowed to occupy the HMO will be sent to the applicant and all interested parties such as. Mortgagees. They are given two weeks to make any representations. In relation to any improvement works identified, a compliance period is given
  • A decision to grant or refuse the licence is made, taking into account any representations received. The formal notification is sent out to the applicant and all interested persons
  • If granted, the licence is usually issued for a five year period but a shorter licence may be granted if there are concerns relating to the management of the HMO, or about the physical condition of the premises. For such premises, a one year licence would normally be issued.
  • Once a licence has been issued, the property will be inspected periodically to check if any works requested at the approval stage have been carried out and to check that good management standards are being maintained
  • We may, from time to time, ask for the latest periodic gas or electric safety certificates and other relevant documents
  • The Council is required to compile and maintain a Public Register of licensed HMOs, which is available on our website

Will tacit consent apply?

No. It is in the public interest that Waltham Forest Council must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within ten working days contact us online if you applied through the UK welcome business website or use the contact details below:

Email or call 020 8496 2227


The fee is £930 per HMO up to 6 units of accommodation. For every unit above this, the cost will be £88 per unit. For re-application (a renewal) the fee is £930.

Apply online

Apply for a house in multiple occupancy licence.

Or alternatively:

  • Download and print out the application form and guidance notes below
  • Or email
  • Or call020 8496 3000
  • Or write to
    Housing Standards Team
    London Borough of Waltham Forest
    Environment & Regeneration
    Sycamore House
    Town Hall Complex
    Forest Road
    Walthamstow E17 4JF


Appeal process

Failed application

Please contact Waltham Forest Direct and ask for the Housing Standards team.

You may appeal to a residential property tribunal.

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

Licence holder redress

Please contact Waltham Forest Direct and ask for the Housing Standards team in the first instance.

You may appeal to a residential property tribunal regarding conditions attached to a licence or any decision to vary or revoke a licence.

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

Public complaint

If a licence is granted and as a member of the public you wish to appeal against it being granted, you may do so to a residential property tribunal within 28 days of the decision being made.

Please contact Waltham Forest Direct and ask for the Housing Standards team in the first instance for matters concerning noise, pollution or public health.

More on how to complain about Council services.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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