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Cambridge City Council

Licensing of houses in multiple occupation

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a building, or part of a building such as a flat, that:

  • more than one household lives in and shares an amenity, such as cooking facilities or a toilet
  • is a converted building that does not entirely comprise self-contained flats
  • has been converted to self-contained flats, does not meet the standard required by the 1991 Building Regulations, and less than two thirds of the flats are owner-occupied

Landlords must licence a property if:

  • it is occupied by five or more people forming two or more separate households, or
  • it is a purpose-built flat in a block of up to two flats and occupied as an HMO by five or more people

A household is defined as either a single person or members of the same family who are living together.

Check our licence register to see all current HMO licences.


To apply, print, complete and return an application form:

You can also apply online on the GOV.UK website.

Variation, renewal and exemption forms

Tell us about a house in multiple occupation

If you think you may be living in an HMO or know where one is, please let us know about it so we can check whether it's already in our records.

Fee structure

The following schedule of fees and discounts will apply to all applications due on or after 1 April 2023:

The HMO mandatory licence fee will be £1037, (£933 if app submitted at least 8 weeks prior to expiry of current licence).

There are two fees to pay:

  • Fee on application: £681
  • Fee on grant of licence: £356

The fee on application, which covers the cost of administration, must be made with the application.

The fee on grant of licence covers the cost of the overall management and enforcement of the licence. It is payable just before the licence is granted – you will be reminded to pay when you receive the draft licence.

If you apply to renew your licence by submitting a full and complete application at least 8 weeks before your current licence expires, the fee on application is reduced to £577. As with first-time applications, we’ll remind you to pay the remaining £356 when you receive the draft licence.

After a licence has been granted, we will only give a refund in exceptional circumstances at our discretion. The fees are calculated to cover our costs, which may have already been incurred.

Details of payment methods are listed on page 10 of the application to licence a house in multiple occupation (above).


We aim to process licence applications within 6 weeks of receipt of a full and complete application and fee.

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.

Please note that extra conditions may be added to individual licenses as necessary, eg a formal licence condition to prove competence in property management.

Please Note: We send a weekly list of licenced HMOs in the city to planning enforcement within the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service and 3C Building Control. A HMO of seven or more people requires planning and building control permission. If you do not already have planning consent for the property to be a large (7+) HMO, then it is strongly recommended that you resolve this as soon as possible directly with the planning enforcement team at and 3C Building Control.

You can check your properties planning status including any applications via the planning portal webpage.


You should contact us directly in the first instance if you have an issue or query regarding an HMO licence application.

You can appeal a decision regarding a licence to the First–tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made.

Service related queries

For questions about a service we provide, please use our contact us form