If you own or manage a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) you may need to obtain a licence for the property. It is a criminal offence to operate a licensable HMO without a licence. Landlords who are caught can be heavily fined by the courts.

Mandatory HMO licensing

As of 1 October 2018, all HMOs with five or more occupants are subject to Mandatory HMO licensing*.

Your property qualifies for a Mandatory HMO if:

  • At least five occupants live there, forming more than one household
  • The occupants share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities

*Please note that a purpose-built flat with five or more occupants situated in a block comprising three or more self-contained flats is not subject to mandatory licensing. However, any purpose-built flat in use as a HMO (three or more occupiers from two or more households) situated in one of the following wards; Bevois, Bargate, Portswood, Swaythling, Shirley, Freemantle, Millbrook and Bassett will be subject to Additional HMO Licensing.

Mandatory licences are normally issued for the maximum permitted period of five years from the date of approval.

If your property qualifies as a Mandatory HMO you must apply for a licence now.#

Apply for an HMO licence

# Applications for qualifying HMOs situated in purpose-built blocks must be made using the manual application form, see HMO licence fees. Any queries please contact HMO@southampton.gov.uk

We may issue a licence for a shorter length of time if there have been:

  • Management deficiencies
  • Delays on returning application paperwork
  • The need for works to be carried out to put the HMO into a satisfactory condition
  • Concerns as to the fit and proper status of relevant people

Before reducing the standard term of a licence, we will discuss our concerns with the applicant.

Additional HMO licensing

1 October 2018

On 1 October 2018 Southampton City Council introduced an additional HMO licensing scheme covering the wards of Bevois, Bargate, Portswood and Swaythling. The scheme covers all HMOs in this area that are not covered by Mandatory HMO licensing. This includes all HMOs with three or four tenants and purpose-built flats with three or more occupants that are situated in a block comprising three or more self-contained flats.

These licences will expire on 30 September 2023 when this additional licensing designation ends.

20 October 2015

On 20 October 2015 Southampton City Council introduced a second additional licensing scheme. It covers all HMOs (excluding those subject to mandatory licensing) in the following four wards of the city:
  • Shirley
  • Freemantle
  • Millbrook
  • Bassett

These licences will expire on 19 October 2020 when this additional licensing designation ends.

Check if your property needs an HMO licence

You can check your property online. You will need a MySouthampton account to use this form as you will be asked to log in or sign up.

Check if your property needs an HMO licence 

For more information, please read our HMO frequently asked questions.