Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Our Services A - Z :

You are here: Home Page > Housing > Houses in Multiple Occupation > Additional licensing of HMOs

Additional licensing of HMOs

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing in Bedford Borough 2018


In May 2013 the Council introduced an Additional House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing Scheme across the whole of the Borough. The Council have now completed their consultation on proposals for renewing the scheme for a further five years when it comes to an end in May 2018.  Below is a link to the consultation paper which identifies the reasons why changes are necessary and what the implications of the scheme will be.

Consultation Paper on Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Property Licensing in Bedford Borough 


What Happens Next

All of the information has now been gathered from landlords, tenants, residents and partners and is being analysed. A final report will then be prepared that will highlight the responses received and a recommendation made for consideration by the Council’s Executive Committee on the 13th February 2018.  A summary of the report and final decision will be made available to all those who participated in the consultation process on this web page.


Further Information

You can register for a licence pack by emailing hmolicensing@bedford.gov.uk.

The application forms and guidance will be mailed out to landlords who are either already on our database or who have preregistered, however if you are in any doubt then please get in touch to request an application pack.

NLA or similar accreditation schemes: please register your property.

Landlords already on our HMO database (you will have had inspections in the past): please register your property if you have not done so already.

Landlords who have not yet registered: please email or call us


01234 718516


You can apply for your HMO licence and submit the completed applications by email.  If your property is a shared house it will be classed as a 'traditional' HMO or a 'section 257' HMO, further information is provided below.


Once you have completed your form please send it by post or email to hmolicensing@bedford.gov.uk  email box for processing.  If you need any advice or assistance then you can also call our HMO hotline on 01234 718516.


To download an application form or Landlord's Guide then please use the links below:

Additional HMO Licensing - Landlords Guide (May 2013)

Additional HMO Licensing - s257 Converted Flats HMO Application Form (May 2013)

Additional HMO Licensing - Traditional HMO Application Form (May 2013)


We are currently surveying, house to house, across all areas of the borough where we will be seeking out HMOs that we need to check - so any HMOs not known to us should be identified in the forthcoming months. When we call we will either confirm the occupation from occupying tenants or we may leave a letter explaining what you need to do. Please send an email to hmolicensing@bedford.gov.uk or call the hotline 01234 718516 and leave your details.

The fees for landlords to pay are:

  • Full fee after 6th May 2014 will be £500 per property.
  • Discounts will be available for landlords with more than one property in line with current charging policy.

There will be an extra fee to pay if you do not complete the application correctly and supply the documents required - this represents the extra costs of chasing you up and reminding you to provide the documents or information. This extra fee will be 20% of the cost.

Landlords of HMOs who belong to the University accreditation scheme or another recognised scheme will be grandfathered in (no form filling) for the reduced fee as long as we do not need to chase up any information in the first year of the scheme.

Licensing is about your management of the property. Once you have successfully received your licence, the information will allow us to prioritise an inspection of the HMO to check the matters we know are important - the condition and safety of the house, gas, fire, electricity and to make sure the facilities you provide are in good order. We will inspect your HMO after the licence is issued, so you can wait for us to contact you. Or if you prefer to have an inspection sooner and know if any works are required, you can ask us to arrange your inspection.



Approval of the Scheme

Additional Licensing of HMOs was approved by the Council's Executive on 23rd January 2013.  The Council took the decision, based on the responses to the consultation in the latter part of 2012, to introduce additional HMO licensing across the Borough.  For reference you can still view the Executive Committee report and supporting documentation by clicking the links below:

Executive Record of Decisions

Executive Report

Equality Analysis

                                           House for rent

What is an HMO?

The Housing Act 2004 changed the definition of ‘house in multiple occupation’ (HMO) to include:

  • Traditional bedsit type houses where tenants have their own room or rooms but share something like a bathroom or kitchen.
  • Shared houses where people live as a group but are not a family group.
  • Houses occupied by the owner (residential landlord) plus two or more lodgers or house sharers*
  • Mixtures of rooms and flats in a house – as long as there is some sharing;
  • Flats that are let out to sharers, 3 or more;
  • Hostels, projects and other residential uses that involve adults sharing living space (but not if the property is owned or managed by a Registered Social  landlord).
  • Houses converted into self contained flats where they do not meet the requirements of the 1991 Building Regulations, and at least one third of the flats are occupied under shorthold tenancies.

*Two unrelated occupiers living in a house is NOT an HMO. If you are unsure - email hmolicensing@bedford.gov.uk

This is a basic summary and the full definition can be found in the Housing Act 2004, sections 254 – 260 and schedule 14.

For Additional Licensing ALL HMOs will be licensable unless they are exempted

If you own or lease a flat in a converted block - your management company will need to make the application. You can register with us to make sure we know about your property.

If you own a converted house that is an HMO under s257 or you own a flat in such a house, BUT you know the Council have been involved and fire safety works to improve it to the current Housing Act standards are completed - your HMO will not need a licence. We will be compiling checklists of exempted properties in the upcoming months and all such properties will receive an exemption certificate.

More information about additional licensing

The aim of the scheme, which will run for 5 years only, will be to enforce proper standards on the landlords and managers who persistently fail to comply with the law and put tenant safety at risk. This scheme will ensure that all HMOs will have to be licensed – any non licensed HMO that we identify, after the introduction period and attendant publicity will be subject to enforcement action which is likely to be prosecution. The fees generated will enable the Council to proactively deal with all HMOs in the borough in a scheduled way to protect vulnerable residents.

Some landlords of property in the borough may not be able to pass the 'fit and proper person' element of the process. Such landlords, according to the government, should not be owning or managing HMOs and therefore other solutions will have to be sought – the Council is committed to improving standards and management through the means of additional licensing.

Additional licensing will require all owners and managers of affected properties to apply for a licence. There will be documents to provide (only those proofs and test certificates that a responsible landlord will already provide, such as gas safety certificates, fire alarm and emergency test certificates, proof of deposit protection etc). Owners and managers will need to decide who will be the 'licence holder'. They must be a fit and proper person as defined in section 66 of the Housing Act 2004. This is to ensure that people whom own and operate HMOs are fit to do so and have no inappropriate background which would exclude them.

HMOs will be inspected during the licence period (5 years) and checked to make sure the standards are compliant with the national and local minimum standards for houses in multiple occupation. The focus will be in fire safety, gas and electrical safety, good management and practices, good quality shared facilities and rooms that are sufficiently spacious to avoid overcrowding.

HMOs that are self contained converted flats (s257 HMOs)

Converted self contained flats that are formed from older buildings are  proposed to be included in the scheme. The reasoning behind this decision is that our experiences in the borough show that this group of properties can demonstrate less than satisfactory conditions with basic repairs not being done and poor management of the common areas. Leaseholders and tenants may not know who is responsible or how their service charges are being spent. In some cases we have found managers have not paid the electricity for the hallways and it has been cut off! The Council wants to get to grips with failures in this type of property and demand good management in this sector. Leaseholder owned management companies and those who have external managers, perhaps one of the large nationals, will be made to improve their approaches, if conditions are found lacking. Many leaseholders do not know enough to feel confident that their managers are doing a good job. Information can be disseminated on subjects such as 'right to manage' agreements, where leaseholders can take back their rights and appoint new managers.

Further enquiries

We trust this information is useful to you, however if you have any further questions then please do not hesitate to contact the Environmental Health & Trading Standards Service by the following methods:


By post:

All correspondence should be addressed to:
Community Regulation

Borough Hall

Cauldwell Street

MK42 9AP


By telephone:

(01234) 718516 – you will be connected to the HMO hotline 

By email:


Don't Miss

Borough Hall Exterior

This website provides information on the services delivered by Bedford Borough Council.


Stay Connected
Sign up for email alerts!