HMO and Licensing in Wales

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Houses in multiple occupation

Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 (HA 2004) relates to houses in multiple occupation (HMO). It provides for the licensing of HMOs and other arrangements in certain circumstances where people share facilities, for example, where rooms are let in a house and the other facilities are shared, or bed and breakfasts.

'House in multiple occupation' is defined in section 254 of HA 2004. A building, or part of a building is an HMO if it satisfies one of a number of tests, (the 'standard' test, the 'self-contained flat' test, or the 'converted building' test), there is an HMO declaration in force in respect of it, or it is a converted block of flats which satisfies certain requirements.

Local authorities must operate a licensing scheme in relation to certain high risk HMOs, see sections 55 and 61 of HA 2004 and the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (Wales) Order 2006 made under section 55(3). A local authority is also able to devise its own scheme for other HMOs if it designates its area, or part of its area as subject to additional licensing (see sections 56 and 57 of HA 2004).

Licences can have conditions attached to them, breach of which is a criminal offence. See sections 72 to 75 of the HA 2004 relating to enforcement.

Selective licensing

Part 3 of HA 2004 enables local authorities to introduce a selective licensing scheme in which all private landlords in a designated area are required to be licensed. Selective licensing focusses on areas of low housing demand and areas suffering from anti-social behaviour (section 80 of HA 2004). An authority must consult and obtain the approval of the Welsh Ministers before implementing a selective licensing scheme in a designated area. 

Conditions can be attached to licences, breach of which is a criminal offence. See sections 95 to 98 of HA 2004 relating to enforcement.