Please note that if on the day the sale is completed the property is occupied as an HMO, then the new owner is required by law to submit a valid HMO licence application form.  You can do this here.


Planning permission and HMO licensing are two separate requirements and it is essential that where required, planning permission is obtained.  Buying a property that has a HMO licence does not confirm that the correct planning permission is in place to use the property as an HMO. 

An Article 4 Direction is in place throughout the City of Bath which triggers a requirement for a planning application to change the use of a family home to a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO).  An HMO are defined in planning terms as small shared houses occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals, as their only or main residence, who share basic amenities such as a kitchen or bathroom. 

Many HMO’s were in existence prior to the Article 4 Direction coming into effect on 1st July 2013 and these properties are not affected by the Article 4 Direction if they remain in use as an HMO.

A property which is currently used as an HMO (use class C4) can change use to a dwellinghouse (use class C3) without requiring planning permission from the Council.  Should the property, after any period of use as a dwellinghouse, be used as an HMO again, then planning permission will be required due to the Article 4 Direction that covers the City of Bath.

It should be noted that planning permission may not be forthcoming for this change of use if the property is located in an area with a high concentration of HMO’s.  The Council has recently revised its Houses in Multiple Occupation SPD and the threshold has reduced from 25% to 10% and a sandwich policy has been introduced.  For more information please visit:

For more information please contact Planning by email: or Council Connect tel: 01225 394041, select 5 for Planning from the automated menu. 

Mortgage Companies and Solicitors

To help explain the HMO licensing process to mortgage companies and solicitors you may find this explanatory letter helpful.

Standards and Inspections

Please remember when buying a licensable HMO that even though it will have been inspected previously and where needed works will have been requested, the inspection is only a snapshot in time and things may have changed.

Housing inspections and assessments are done on a case by case basis – they are based on  the current standards and on the apparent risk at the time, so things can change.  Please be aware that a licensed HMO may still require works to bring it up to the standard and you cannot rely on the information provided by the previous applicant.  For example an undersized bedroom may still require work to bring it up to the licensing standard.

The most common issues we come across and will require work to resolve are:



The problem


Small rooms

Bedrooms below the minimum standard (single bedroom 6.51m2) or lack of communal/kitchen space

Extending rooms to meet the minimum.  Discuss with Housing Services before undertaking any action.


Internal key locks on bedroom or final exit door delaying escape in the event of an emergency. 


Replace with thumb style turn locks.


Inner bedrooms

Where a bedroom is located off another room this is a high risk layout as a fire in the outer room will prevent escape from the bedroom.

In most cases a full 30 minute fire door will be required with smoke and heat seals and a self-closing device.  A compliant escape window is also essential and mains wired interlinked smoke alarms are needed in both the inner and outer room.


Small rooms


Bedrooms/living room/kitchens undersize for the number of occupants

Potentially – reduce occupancy or make structural changes.  Please do not make major change without consulting with Housing Services.


For room sizes refer to HMO licensing standards


Fire separation

Insufficient internal doors e.g.

self-closing devices not working or removed (where required);

glazed panels in doors and partitions.


Insufficient separation between means of escape and basements.

Ensure internal doors as a minimum are close fitting, sound, conventional doors (hollow in-fill type doors are generally not good enough).  In some cases fire doors may be required.  Properties with 3 or more floors will need self-closing doors.  Normal glazing is not acceptable.


Basements should have smoke or heat alarms installed and walls and ceilings should be plasterboard and skim or equivalent. 


Fire alarms (mains powered and interlinked)

Either not working or insufficient coverage.


Ensure they are regularly tested and cover (as a minimum) the hallway, landing, living room and kitchen.

Refer to the LACORS guide for full details.


Damp, mould and direct ventilation

Bedrooms without windows direct to the outside; bathrooms without correct ventilation and heating; damp basements

All bedrooms should have direct and secure means for ventilation.


Bathrooms must have ventilation and heating.


Habitable basements must be dry, appropriately converted with sufficient heating and ventilation.


Storage and items on the means of escape (includes halls, stairways and landings)


Wardrobes and shelves, personal items and placement of white goods in the means of escape.  


Remove all items and keep clear.  There are some exceptions where a wardrobe may be permitted as ancillary storage to a small bedroom.


Fire blanket

Not correctly positioned.

A fire blanket should be supplied to every kitchen and be wall mounted adjacent to the kitchen door and nearer the door than the cooker.


Gardens and yards

Accumulations including rubbish and waste, slippery decking, unkempt gardens and overgrown foliage.


Ensure outside areas are maintained regularly and kept in good condition.  It is the mangers responsibility to do this.


Landlords/managers details

Not on display

Display contact detail for the manager in a prominent position in the property. Template




  • Always refer to the licensing standards for full details and speak to Housing Services for more information.
  • The above is only a guide to common issues officers find and is not definitive.  Every property is different so may require more or less work.
  • It is recommended that before undertaking works you speak to an inspecting officer or wait until after the licensing inspection.
  • You may also find the ‘The Rental Standard check list  useful when undertaking your visit to the property.

Please note we cannot carry out advisory visits however we are happy to discuss any issues you have over the phone or via email.


Your rating: 

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (6 votes)
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.