Do I need HMO licence


I have been looking for some answers regarding HMO licence specifically some context are not exactly clear. So far I can understand that HMO licence is required if you need to rent property to 3 or more individuals which form 2 or more house holds sharing kitechen and bathroom.

I have a scenario where my prospective tenant and his wife will be main contractable tenant and his cousin is sharing the house to live with his wife. So they are 4 adults but can they be considered as single house hold due to related cousins? Do I need to apply for HMO?

The property is a 3 bed house with 1 bathroom (separate toilet and bathroom) and a kitchen.

I am not going to let them separately but just a family or cousins who want to share cost.

This unique scenario does appear to be a grey area. The law isn’t clear. I think you could argue that they are one family. If it was me I would let it without a license. You mention one of them being the main tenant, if so this may be a work around with the main couple on the tenancy and the other couple permitted occupiers contributing to the bills.

This is one household as long as you are confident that they really are cousins. I would want a signed declaration from each.

“ Who is a family member?

A person is a member of another person’s family if:

  • he or she lives with that person as a couple
  • one of them is related to the other
  • or is related to one member of the couple.

and where

  • couple means two people who are married or in a civil partnership, or live together as partners

  • relative means a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or first cousin

  • siblings are treated the same whether they are half or whole brothers / sisters

  • stepchildren are treated the same as birth children.”

Thank you for your time and input.

They said cousins but I’m not sure how can I prove as they are first cousins. Mentioning them as approved member as cousins in contract can be enough?

I’m sure it’s common where migrant professionals sharing house with cousins to save money.

Be careful because they might be using the word “Cousin” extremely loosely.

Could just be “from same area”.

Hi Raya,
for what it’s worth, Govn’t Depts’. themselves don’t appear to be consistent. As Chris and David say, on the face of it, it’s one household. I’m sure, though,that many tenants simply use the term “cousin” very freely!
When someone previously raised the question here, I’d enquired of DLUHC re: how many generations of relatives were included as acceptable family, as follows:

Private Rental Sector - There appears to be an anomaly between the Housing Act 2004 and the site - as regards what degree of “relative” is considered to be a family member [when considering HMO’s].
Housing Act extract:- appears to extend a family member only to a SECOND degree relative - whilst the Housing Act extends partially to THIRD degree relatives (i.e. it INCLUDES a cousin - but EXCLUDES Great-Grandparents). Q) Can you please advise if the site needs amending - and provide consistency/clarification for PRS Landlords, please?

I didn’t feel their response was helpful/clear; they enact the law, then state they can’t comment and advise you to seek legal advice!
Thank you for your email to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and
Communities. I have been asked to respond as this matter falls within my policy
area. Ministers and their officials are unable to give legal advice or comment on
individual cases.
On investigating your issue Ms Kincaid, the guidance on the webpage, linked
here Private renting: Houses in multiple occupation - GOV.UK, is intended to
give some of the examples as a general idea. You can find the longer list of
examples in the Housing Act (2004), which I have linked below for ease.
These do not contradict each other and as a result we will not need to change the
guidance on the webpage. If you have concerns with anyone defined outside
of the examples given on either links, in your particular case a ‘great-grandparent’, I
recommend you seek advice from a legal professional.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to write into the department and I hope this
information is of use to you.

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Never rely on Govt advice pages. They are often wrong.

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Thanks all for your valuable inputs. Sorry for delay in reply due to holiday.

Section 258 mentions cousins to identify as relative. However, council doesn’t mention cousins in there example of relatives.

is it landlord’s responsibility to check how are they related? Isn’t a declaration from tenant mentioning their status as cousin/relative not enough to cover?


If you get a signed and possibly witnessed statement from each specifying the exact relationship then its probably sufficient to cover you against prosecution or RRO. However if it turned out that they were not related, you would still have to get an HMO licence.