Licensing of houses in multiple occupation
Landlords of certain houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) need to apply to license their properties.
This applies to HMOs which are three or more storeys high and have five or more occupiers who do not form a single household. The number of storeys includes habitable basements and attics. Mandatory licensing applies across the whole of Swansea.
Additional Licensing applies in the Castle, Uplands and St Thomas wards of Swansea. All HMOs, irrespective of size, have to be licensed in these three wards. This includes HMOs that are excluded from the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.
Student accommodation which is owned and managed by a university is exempt from licensing. Universities have to comply with a separate code of practice for their accommodation.
What does HMO licensing do?
Licensing looks at both the HMO itself (conditions, amenities and suitability for a maximum number of occupiers) and also the management arrangements. Both the licence holder and any manager must be suitable (sometimes called 'fit and proper') and competent, there must be a suitable management structure in place as well as adequate financial arrangements.
A licence has conditions attached to it which aim to ensure that HMOs are safe for the tenants and that they do not cause unnecessary concerns for other local residents.
How do I apply for a HMO licence?
You need to complete an application form and submit it with the correct fee and a current landlord's gas safety record.
If you apply by post you should make cheques payable to 'City and County of Swansea' and send it with your completed form.
What happens after I submit my application?
We inspect all HMOs before issuing a licence so we will make an appointment with the licence applicant and expect them to make sure that they, or the property
manager, meet us at the property with keys so that we can do a full inspection of the whole property. If you have tenants, make sure you notify them of the inspection.
At the inspection we'll tell you what, if any, work needs to be carried out and then we'll write to you and send you a draft licence with a plan and a detailed schedule of work. This could be repair or maintenance work, fire safety work, upgrading amenities for cooking or washing, providing certificates for gas, electricity, fire alarms or extinguishers, providing refuse and recycling facilities or providing information to occupiers. We will also tell you how long you have to make these changes or repairs.
We also send a copy of the draft licence to any other person with an ownership interest in the property, any manager and anyone who holds a mortgage on the property (make sure this information is completed in the declaration on the application form). They will have two weeks to contact us with any queries about the draft licence.
There will be a two week consultation on your draft licence and we will discuss and amend the licence after this if needed. Once the full licence has been issued will we inspect the property again to make sure the changes or repairs highlighted on the draft licence have been done.
If the work is not all completed by the required date, you will not be complying with licensing conditions and may risk prosecution. This may also reduce the period of any licence issue to you in the future.
A HMO licence is issued to one person and cannot be transferred to anyone else. If you have a licence for an HMO and you sell the property your licence will not be valid and the new owner will need to apply for a new licence. If you change management arrangements or contact details you must tell us within seven days of the change taking place.
If you want to increase the number of occupiers you must write to us and request a variation. We will consider your proposals and if everything is satisfactory we will issue you with a varied licence.
What happens if I don't license my property?
Failure to license an HMO is a criminal offence for which an owner can be prosecuted and can be fined up to £20,000.
Where owners have been prosecuted tenants can claim back any rent they have paid to the landlord whilst the property was not licensed. To do this, tenants must apply to the Residential Property Tribunal for a Rent Repayment Order. Please telephone them on 02920 231687 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Failure to comply with licence conditions is also an offence and the fine can be up to £5,000. Licences can also be revoked if a landlord fails to comply with the licence conditions.
In certain cases if the owner fails to license, the Council can make a Management Order and take over the management of the property. The owner will not have access to the property and the rent will be collected by the Council.
How can I find out if my landlord has licensed the HMO where I live?
Details of HMOs that are licensed are held on a public register. If the property you are looking for is not here please let us know.
Conditions of the licence also mean that a copy of the licence should be clearly displayed in a prominent position at the property.
If you have any problems with your application or would like more information then please contact us on 01792 635600 or email email@example.com. Any applicant who is refused a licence or who wishes to appeal against a condition attached to their licence can appeal to a residential property tribunal within 28 days of the decision being made.