HMO Licence – self contained flats

HMO Licence – self contained flats

13:32 PM, 12th September 2018, About 4 years ago 15

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I own a shop with 8 COMPLETELY self contained flats above.

There is some confusion with Hackney council on the HMO issue.

For mortgage reasons and other, I DONT WANT THEM TO BE HMOS. Hackney said if they comply to 1991 Building Regs(or if not if they can be made to comply), they they don’t have to be classed as HMOs

I have rang over 20 surveyors and private Building reg companies to find someone who can survey the property to tell me if it complies or not, but not one has said they can help because they only work to current Building Regs. The Building Control dept at Hackney said they can’t help because the work to current Regs so I’m stuck in a big hole.

Please help!



Neil Patterson

13:38 PM, 12th September 2018, About 4 years ago

Hi Sharron

For individual councils the criteria for licensing an HMO is often different. However, for mandatory licensing it is any property shared by five or more people in two or more households, where facilities such as kitchen or bathroom are shared.


22:11 PM, 12th September 2018, About 4 years ago

None of the facilities are shared Neil.

I’m really trying to get someone to help me establish the 1991 Building Regs. No one seems to be able to so I’m stuck in a hole.

landlord andrew

23:45 PM, 12th September 2018, About 4 years ago

You have section 257 hmo ( google it ).

It is a block of flats built to pre 1991 building regs where at least 2/3 of the flats are rented , not owner occupied.

2 choices , upgrade it to post 1991 buildings regs ( if not already done ) and register an exemption from licensing OR don't upgrade it , pay for license , council will force you to upgrade and then continue to pay license in future.

I work in property maintenance and could not quote you 1991 building regs , just ask builder to upgrade to current building regs and you will be fine .

At my section 257 hmo I was granted exemption. What my council looked for was :-
-double boarded and skimmed ceilings
-boarded and skimmed cellar
-cellar hatch fireproof to 30 minutes
-flats must have 30minute fire doors with max of 3mm gap between door and frame and intumescent strip
- top mounting door closer , not the old perco chain type
-must be able to exit flats without keys in case of fire so any deadlocks must have internal thumb turn
-kitchen door must be fire door with closer to give protection between source of fire and hallway ,which is escape route and as such must be protected
-block fire alarm system with heat sensors in each flat and smoke/heat dual sensors in hallway stairs. Call points on each level. Weekly testing (recorded in fire test log book) and 6 monthly check & certificate by contractor.
-emergency lighting in escape route , tested monthly (recorded in fire test log book) and annual check & certificate by contractor.
-Fire risk assessment
-No letter box in main front door of block as this is arson risk , use external metal letter boxes.
-secure main front door
-electric meter cupboard in hallway must be fireproof and have fire doors
-smoke alarms in each flat , interlinked between different rooms in that flat ,so if lounge is activated it wakes you in bedroom.
-All walls and plasterwork between flats in good condition with all holes filled to maintain fire break between flats.

Hope that helps


7:53 AM, 13th September 2018, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Sjp at 12/09/2018 - 22:11
It’s quite easy one as I had a few blocks of flats that had HMO licences on and the 1991 building regs are very basic, so if you have the required fire alarm / doors and closers along with the requirements of a HMO’s licence all you need to do is :
Find a independent building inspector (we use celtec for our building work), get them to carry out out an inspection of the whole building, if he’s happy he can issue a building certificate saying you comply with 1991 building regs, sends licensing a copy and they then remove you from the Register requiring a licence!!!!
All my properties now do not require a licence and I also save a fortune on licence.


7:53 AM, 13th September 2018, About 4 years ago

Very helpful Andrew thank you.

It’s a 4 story building and I believe that the separations are 30 mins not 60 mins so if I have to do the later (because of current regs rather than 1991) it would be a nightmare for me - the cost of ripping up floorboards, walls, ceilings plus I’d have to get people out - lost rent, section 21s etc


8:01 AM, 13th September 2018, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by at 13/09/2018 - 07:53
Mike price. I cannot find independent building inspectors (I’ve tried around 12!) who will do this. They all say they can only do it to current standards or that because it’s not a new project with them , they can’t help. Would Celtec do this without it being a new project and do you have a contact for me. I’d really appreciate this. Thank you.


15:05 PM, 13th September 2018, About 4 years ago

A misunderstanding of the regulations?
My understanding so far as self contained non building reg complient flats is, that in themselves (providing they are not sufficiently occupierd to be a HMO in their own right) they fall within S257 Housing Act 2004 and as such do not require licensing under the national rules. However they may require licensing under Selective or Additional licensing if the local council have introduced such schemes.
The redefinition of HMOs for 1st October is found inThe Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018 SI2018 No221. The wording of that instrument does not refer to the S257 "exemption" however the druagthsmans note makes it patently clear that the new 1st Oct 18 licensing scheme does not apply to S 257 blocks of self contained flats. The note reads:
"The Order applies to HMOs in England but does not apply to converted blocks of flats, to which section 257 of the Act applies. These are buildings that have been converted into and consist of self-contained flats where the building work undertaken in connection with the conversion did not comply with the appropriate building standards and still does not comply with them, and less than two-thirds of the self-contained flats are owner-occupied."
This is a sloppy draughting and it would be much better embodied in the regulation rather than an extra note.
So .... if something is non licensable why bother with local council exmeption schemes etc? Such seems a nonsense idea to me and just a pathway to problems.
However the Housing Health and Safety Rating Scheme will require a contemporary approach to the hazzards assessed therein including of course fire. That may necessitate building improvements but as such licensing issues are not in play here.


19:31 PM, 13th September 2018, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by at 13/09/2018 - 15:05
“Reader” please see the excerpt from Hackney’s own HMO document dated October 2018 : (I checked this with the Team Leader there too):

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is defined as:

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 completely self contained (ie the flat does not have 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 short-term tenancies

landlord andrew

20:52 PM, 13th September 2018, About 4 years ago

Hi Sharron
I forgot to mention you will also need a fixed wiring electrical test certificate for the communal area electrics.

I had a further thought about you problem finding someone who can give a definite answer to what spec you require.

To get exemption OR to meet licensing conditions , you will need a fire risk assessment. If you get fire risk assessment done by a reputable fire alarm company , then it is a very comprehensive document and will have a detailed list of all required actions . You can give this list to your contractor(s).

The shop beneath the flat might have a particular fire risk that needs addressing that wouldn't occur in flats without a shop and is not in my list above.

The councils aim is to improve fire safety upto modern standards , so by following requirements on fire risk assessment you will meet councils requirement.


21:05 PM, 13th September 2018, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Sjp at 13/09/2018 - 08:01
You need them to carry out a Building Regulation Compliance Assessmentfor 1991 regulations

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