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Which houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) need a licence

Find out if your HMO needs to be licensed.

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 mandatory scheme

  • additional licence scheme.

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

Mandatory licence scheme

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

  • is three or more storeys high (from 1 October 2018 the number of storeys will not apply)

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

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

Additional licence scheme

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.

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

If you have more than one property

You must submit a licence application for every property you rent out. However, there are discounts available.

How long a does a licence last?

If a licence is granted it will last for five years. For a licence to remain valid during the five years, you need to send us updated documents, such as gas safety certificates.

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
Telephone: 020 8314 6420
Email: pshe@lewisham.gov.uk