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HMO licensing

As well as the national Mandatory licensing scheme for HMOs which has been set by the Government, Bedford Borough Council also operate an Additional HMO Licensing scheme for smaller HMOs (with 3 or 4 unrelated tenants sharing one or more amenities) and converted buildings (257 HMOs).

Everyone who operates an HMO needs to be aware that it is an offence to operate a licensable HMO without the required licence and is punishable by an unlimited fine following prosecution in the courts or a maximum fine of up to £30,000 following the implementation of a Civil Penalty by a local authority.

It is therefore extremely important that landlords operating an HMO ensure they have the correct licence. If you are unsure about whether your property is an HMO or not, please contact us at the contact details at the end of this section.

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 as this is when the scheme will come to an end.

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 (which came into force in June 1992) and more than a third of the tenancies are let out on a shorthold tenancy agreement known as s257 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.

If you would like to know more information about how the scheme was adopted please click on the following links.

How to apply for your HMO licence

You can now apply for your HMO licence on line using the link below. Alternatively you can request a Word document application form to be emailed to you by emailing the following email address HMO.Licensing@bedford.gov.uk.

The application form requires you to enter numerous details about the management and ownership of the property, and details of the facilities provided such as bathrooms and kitchens. If you apply via the Council website you will be required to register for an account before you can apply for your licence.

Before you apply for an HMO licence, it is useful to have the following items as digital copies, ready for upload. They must be current certificates only. You will not be able to complete your application if a required document is not attached to the application.

  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 i.e. 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.

You should save your application as you go along using the save button on the form. If you want to edit a previously completed section scroll back up the screen and use the edit button for the relevant section. If you cannot complete your application in one go you will be able to save it and return at a later date to complete your application.

The following link will take you to the Council website so that you can start applying for your licence.

Apply for an HMO Licence

Apply for an HMO Licence

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 i.e. £605.20 plus £60.20 per bedroom or where the building is a building converted into flats (a 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:

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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