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Which houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) need a licence

Find out if your HMO needs to be licensed.
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Read about the changes.

From 1 October 2018, all HMOs with five or more occupants need to have a licence.

There are two licensing schemes for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in the borough of Lewisham:

  • the National Mandatory Scheme

  • a Lewisham Additional Scheme.

Not all HMOs need to be licensed. The criteria for the two schemes are below.

National Mandatory Scheme

By law, an HMO must have a mandatory licence if it: 

  • has five or more people in more than one household, and

  • shares amenities, such as bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities.

National Mandatory Licences, if granted, are valid for five years.

Lewisham Additional Schemes

Additional licensing applies to certain Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) that fall outside the scope of the National Mandatory Scheme. Lewisham's Additional HMO Licences, if granted, are valid for the duration of the scheme.

Current Additional Scheme

Currently, in the borough of Lewisham you need a licence for any HMO above a commercial premises. Converted flats above commercial premises may also meet the criteria for an additional licence. This applies even if they do not contain multiple households. 

This is called the ‘additional licence’, where a council is allowed to impose a licence on types of HMOs that don’t meet the criteria for a mandatory licence. The additional licensing scheme started on 11 February 2017 and continues for five years until 10 February 2022.

If your property meets the criteria for both an additional and mandatory licence, you only need a mandatory licence.

Please note:  From 5 Nov 2021, no applications will be accepted for this scheme. All new applications must be made under the new Lewisham Additional HMO Designation below.

New Lewisham Additional Scheme

A new Additional Scheme will come into force on Tuesday 5 April 2022 and will apply to any HMO property in Lewisham that is not captured by the National Mandatory Scheme or is specifically excluded from Licensing. See Public Notice - Additional Licensing Scheme Designation 2022 for more information. The scheme was approved by the Council’s Mayor and Cabinet on 11 March 2020.

Applications for additional licences made from 5 November 2021 to 4 April 2022 will be eligible for an ‘early bird’ discount.

Each licence can last up to a maximum of 5 years or until the scheme expires on 4 April 2027.

Licensed properties must comply with Licensing Standards.

Licence holders must comply with HMO Licence Conditions.

Failure to comply with the licence conditions will be dealt with either informally or formally through enforcement action. See the Council’s Private Sector Housing Enforcement and Licensing Policy 2021 for more information. 

HMO Licence Fees

You must submit a licence application for every property you rent out. The licence fee is split into two parts – an application fee and a licence enforcement fee. The application fee which covers the up-front processing costs is payable when the application is made. See HMO licensing fees and discounts for more information.

How long a does a licence last?

National Mandatory Licences, if granted, are valid for five years. Whereas, Lewisham's Additional HMO Licences, if granted, are valid for the duration of the scheme.

For a licence to remain valid, the property must meet the Licensing Standards and the licence holder abide by the HMO Licence Conditions for the duration of the licence.

If you're not sure if you need a licence

If you're not sure if you need a licence, contact us so we can make sure you're meeting your obligations.


Private Sector Housing Agency

Third Floor, Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London, SE6 4RU