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HMO licensing

It is an offence to operate an HMO without the required licence and can result in an unlimited fine.

As well as the Government's national Mandatory licensing scheme for HMOs, Bedford Borough Council also operates an Additional HMO Licensing scheme for smaller HMOs (with 3 or 4 unrelated tenants sharing one or more amenities) and converted buildings (Section 257 HMO).

Landlords operating an HMO must ensure they have the correct licence. If you are unsure about whether your property is an HMO or not, please contact us using the details at the end of this page.

See further information about HMO licensing on GOV.UK

Mandatory HMO licensing

A mandatory HMO licence is required where a property:

  • is an HMO with 1 or more storeys; and is
  • occupied by 5 or more people, in more than one household; and
  • all or some of these households share a basic amenity, such as a bathroom or kitchen

Additional HMO licensing

The Council also operate an Additional HMO Licensing scheme which last for a five year period from the 17 May 2018 to 16 May 2023. Any licences issued within this period will only last until 16 May 2023 regardless of when they start.

An additional HMO licence is required where a property:

  • is an HMO with one or more storeys, and is
  • occupied by 3 or 4 people, in more than one household, and
  • all or some of them share facilities such as a bathroom or kitchen

Or

  • The property consists of self-contained flats in a building which do not meet the standards of conversion required by the 1991 Building Regulations and more than a third of the tenancies are let out on a shorthold tenancy agreement known as Section 257 HMOs. There do not necessarily have to be common parts in the property, although this will be taken into consideration when assessing the adequacy of the fire separation between the flats.

See more information about how the scheme was adopted:

How to apply for your HMO licence

You can apply for your HMO licence online (you will need to register for an account). You will be required to tell us about the management and ownership of the property, and of the facilities provided such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Please have ready digital copies of the following to attach to your application. They must be current certificates only. You will not be able to complete your application if a required document is missing.

  1. The current gas safety certificate (only required where there is a gas supply).
  2. A current electrical safety inspection certificate (required every 5 years). Where the application is for a mandatory HMO or Additional HMO licence with 3 or 4 people in a house/flat licence this should be for the whole of the property. Where the application is for an Additional HMO 257 licence the certificate should be for the common parts of the building ie hall, stairs and landings and will usually include the automatic fire detection system and lighting circuits.
  3. Fire safety installation and commissioning certificate (where a new installation has been installed).
  4. An annual fire detection inspection certificate (where the fire detection system is panel controlled).
  5. An emergency lighting installation certificate (where a new installation has been installed).
  6. An annual inspection certificate of the emergency lighting (where installed).
  7. Tenancy agreement if the property is occupied
  8. The room dimensions of each bedroom in the property in feet or metres.
  9. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating (optional).
  10. Layout plan of each floor of the property (optional) showing room locations and the provision of amenities.

If you cannot complete your application in one go you can save it and return at a later date to complete.

Apply for an HMO licence

Alternatively you can request the application form as a Word document by emailing HMO.Licensing@bedford.gov.uk.

HMO licence fees

At the end of your application you will be required to pay for your licence by card payment. The fee for both a Mandatory licence and an Additional licence is the same ie £605.20 plus £60.20 per bedroom or where the building is a building converted into flats (a Section 257 HMO) the rate is £605.20 plus £60.20 per flat.

How a licence is granted

Licences will be granted subject to:

  • receipt of the completed application form plus the licence fee
  • the landlord or manager must fulfil the criteria of being a “fit and proper person”
  • the landlord or manager must demonstrate that proper arrangements are in place for the management of the house.

The house must be reasonably suitable for the number of occupants or proposed number of occupants.

Before finally issuing the HMO licence The Council will send a copy of the proposed HMO licence to the applicant, letting agent, manager, mortgage company and other “interested parties” such as long lease tenants of leaseholders.

It may take up to 2 months to issue the licence but depending on demand the Council aim to issue a licence within 1 month of receipt.

Licence holders

The licence will be held by the licence holder, this may be the owner, manager or agent, but must be the most appropriate person to hold the licence.

The licence holder must be a “fit and proper person” and the Government have decided that certain convictions actually preclude a person from being “fit and proper”.

The Council must take into account any previous unspent convictions for the following matters when deciding whether an applicant for an HMO licence is “fit and proper”:

  • violence, sex offences, fraud or drugs
  • housing or landlord and tenant laws
  • unlawful discrimination.

The applicant must demonstrate that they are a fit and proper person and declare any matters above which the Council must have regard to. A Criminal Records Bureau check may be requested if appropriate.

The applicant must also demonstrate that satisfactory arrangements for the management of the house are in place. Previous failures of management which have resulted in enforcement action by the Council may preclude the applicant from holding a licence.

Conditions to granting licences

Licences will normally last for five years but licence period may be for a shorter time if our records show management failings with the property. This would enable the landlord to improve the condition and management of the house, under the direction of the HMO team, and work towards a full five year licence.

There will be conditions attached to each licence. The Government has set out what it expects conditions to be, but Councils can also attach discretionary conditions that are appropriate to the local area e.g. to deal with problems of anti-social behaviour.

Contact details

You can contact the HMO Team:

By post, all correspondence should be addressed to:

Bedford Borough Council
Borough Hall
Community Regulation Room 401
Cauldwell Street
Bedford MK42 9AP

By email:
HMO.licensing@bedford.gov.uk

By telephone:
01234 718099

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