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HMO Guide

What is a HMO?

Licensing ensures that certain types of rented property meet standards to ensure a house is safe for the occupants and that the landlord is competent, qualified and the most appropriate person to manage it. The houses must have adequate fire precautions and sufficient kitchen and bathroom amenities for the number of occupants. 


A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a building, or part of a building, that:

  • is occupied by individuals who do not form a single household
  • is occupied by those individuals as their only or main residence
  • rent is payable by at least one of the occupiers
  • two or more households share one or more basic amenities


Purpose built blocks of self-contained flats are not HMOs, but houses or buildings that have been converted into a block of flats may be a HMO if:

  • the standard of conversion does not comply with the 1991 Building Regulations
  • less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied


There are 2 types of Licence that relate to different HMO property types and different areas:-

Mandatory – Applicable to the whole of Cardiff

Additional Licensing Scheme – Applicable to Cathays and Plasnewydd only


Mandatory Licences

A Mandatory HMO Licence applies to houses in multiple occupation that have 3 storeys or more and 5 or more occupants who do not form a single household. This applies across the whole of Cardiff and can include shared houses and houses split into bedsits, or a mixture of flats and bedsits. To provide more detail, the following property types are classed as HMOs for Mandatory Licensing purposes provided the property has 3 storeys.

• An entire house or flat which is let to 5 or more tenants who form 2 or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.

• A house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non self-contained accommodation and which is let to 5 or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities.

• A converted house which contains one or more flats which are not entirely self contained (ie the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by 5 or more tenants who form two or more households.

• In order to be an HMO the property must be used as the only or main residence of the tenants and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence and the same will apply to properties which are used as domestic refuges

Additional Licensing Scheme – Cathays and Plasnewydd

Cardiff Council have declared two areas within Cardiff as Additional Licensing Schemes. The Additional Licensing Scheme in Cathays first came into effect on 1 July 2010 and again on 1 January 2016 and in Plasnewydd on 3 November 2014. The Scheme extends the scope of licensing to cover most rented property with 3 or more occupiers who form 2 or more households regardless of how many storeys the property has. Each Scheme runs for a period of 5 years, at the end of which, the Council will be required to re-declare the Additional Licensing Scheme. This applies to the Cathays area and Plasnewydd Area and can include shared houses and houses split into bedsits, or a mixture of flats and bedsits. Additional Licensing does not apply to or affect properties that are licensable under the Mandatory Licensing Scheme above and does not include owner occupiers with up to 2 tenants living in their property


To provide more detail, the following property types are classed as HMOs under the Additional Licensing Scheme.

• An entire house or flat which is let to 3 or more tenants who form 2 or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.

• A house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non self-contained accommodation and which is let to 3 or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities.

• A converted house which contains one or more flats which are not entirely self contained (ie the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by 3 or more tenants who form two or more households.

• A building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and more than one-third of the flats are let on shortterm tenancies.

• In order to be an HMO the property must be used as the only or main residence of the tenants and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence and the same will apply to properties which are used as domestic refuges 


How to Apply?

Application forms are available to download from Cardiff Council's website at www.cardiff.gov.uk/privaterent

Application forms contain guidance and information on how to make your application and should be completed and returned to the Licensing Team at County Hall, together with all the required documentation and fees.

More Information

For more information and queries relating to a HMO license click here for a comprehensive guide.

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