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Landlords reminded to license Houses in Multiple Occupation or face enforcement action

News release from 17/10/2019

CAMBRIDGE CITY Council is once again urging all landlords of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) to ensure they are correctly licensed – or they could face a fine or prosecution.

Since government changes to the Housing Act were introduced in October 2018 it has been mandatory for landlords of HMOs in Cambridge to have a licence from Cambridge City Council if all of the following apply to their property:

  • It is occupied by five or more people as their only/main residence across any number of floors
  • Occupiers form two or more households
  • Occupiers share a toilet, bathroom and/or kitchen.

There are currently 664 HMO properties in Cambridge which have been correctly licensed by the council, but the landlords of many other properties have not so far come forward.

It is an offence for a licensable HMO not to be licensed, and landlords of unlicensed properties could be prosecuted or given a civil penalty of up to £30,000.

The council is reminding landlords and agents that they must make a valid application in relation to all HMOs within Cambridge that are required to be licensed.

The council will be putting a greater emphasis on enforcement over the coming months to ensure that all HMO properties are being operated legally, and provide Cambridge residents with a safe home that meets all necessary standards.

From Monday 18 November the council will be seeking to take enforcement action against those property managers found to be operating any unlicensed, licensable HMO.

Even if an HMO does not require a licence it is important that landlords ensure it still meets all safety and suitability standards. Further guidance on this, plus further details on HMO licensing and how to apply for a licence is available on the council website at:

Application forms can be downloaded from the ‘Licences and permits’ section of the Cambridge City Council website. HMO licences are generally issued for a period of five years.

Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “We would urge any landlords of HMOs in Cambridge who have still to correctly license their property yet, to do so as quickly as possible.

“The vast majority of landlords operate in accordance with the law but the council has a duty to combat poor practices and will use enforcement powers where necessary to ensure the safety of tenants in the private rented sector.

“If landlords or tenants have any doubts or concerns about the licensing of their property, please get in touch with the council for support and advice.”

For further information relating to mandatory HMO licensing, people can contact the council on 01223 458050 or email