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Variation and revocation of HMO licences

Local authorities may vary or revoke a licence or make a house in multiple occupation (HMO) temporary exempt from licensing.

This content applies to England

Temporary exemption from HMO licence requirement

Where a person having control of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) that should be licensed but is not notifies the local authority of their intention to take steps to take the house out of the licensable criteria, the local authority may serve a temporary exemption notice.[1]

If a temporary exemption notice is served by the local authority, the HMO no longer has to be licensed.

The temporary exemption notice lasts for three months from the date on which it was served. On receipt of a further notification from the person having control, a second temporary exemption notice can be served (lasting for three months from the date when the first expires). No more than two temporary exemption notices can be served.

The local authority can decide not to serve a temporary exemption notice, but must notify the person affected with a notice of the decision and reasons without delay. There is a right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).[2]

Variation of a HMO licence 

Local authorities may vary a licence with the agreement of the licence holder or where there has been a change in circumstances, including discovery of new information. This variation can be on application or on the local authority's own initiative.[3]

An application to vary a licence should be made in writing. Reasons to vary a licence could be to increase or decrease the number of permitted occupants, to add conditions relating to amenities, or to remove any conditions that are no longer applicable. 

Where there has been a change in circumstances and the issue is about the maximum number of households or occupiers or the standards of amenities, the local authority must apply the standards to the circumstances as they were at the time when the licence was granted. However, if the prescribed standards have been changed in regulations since the original licence was issued, the new standards apply.

Before varying a licence (unless the variation is by agreement or is not significant), or before refusing to vary a licence, the local authority must serve a notice on the licence holder and all relevant persons (this does not include tenants with leases with an unexpired term of three years or less) giving information about the effect of the variation and reasons for it, and consider any representations made. There is a minimum consultation period of 14 days.[4]

Within seven days of the decision to vary the licence (or to refuse to vary the licence), the local authority must serve on the licence holder and all relevant persons a notice with a copy of the decision including the date it was made, reasons, and information on appeals.[5]

If the notice contains a defect such as an incorrect date, the First-tier Tribunal can decide the consequences of failing to comply. The notice can be treated as valid if it is just in all the circumstances.[6]

Revocation of a HMO licence

The local authority may revoke an HMO licence:[7]

  • by agreement with the licence holder, for example if the house is converted to a single dwelling

  • if the licence holder has committed a serious breach, or repeated breaches, of a condition

  • if the local authority considers the licence holder or manager no longer 'fit and proper'

  • if the local authority believes the HMO no longer meets the standards required for a licence (judged by the standards applicable at the time the licence was granted unless the standards prescribed in regulations have been revised)

A revocation can be made by agreement or on the local authority's initiative. If by agreement, it becomes effective immediately; otherwise it does not come into force until the time for making an appeal has elapsed or the appeal procedure has been completed.

The procedure for dealing with revocations (other than by agreement) is similar to variations with a notice of intention, 14-day consultation period, and notices containing the date of the decision and reasons with appeal provisions. Similar provisions apply where the local authority proposes to refuse to revoke a licence.

Last updated: 26 July 2021


  • [1]

    s.62 Housing Act 2004.

  • [2]

    Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013 SI 2013/1169; the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal (Chambers) (Amendment) Order 2013 SI 2013/1187.

  • [3]

    s.69 Housing Act 2004.

  • [4]

    Part 2 Sch.5 Housing Act 2004.

  • [5]

    Part 2 Sch.5 Housing Act 2004.

  • [6]

    Kansal v Lambeth London Borough Council [2020] UKUT 365 (LC).

  • [7]

    s.70 Housing Act 2004.