This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website Got it!


  • We all know what a storey is.  Whether a property should be Mandatorily Licensed is partly determined by the number of storeys.  The other considerations include the number of residents and their relationship.  See Large HMO
  • The number of storeys was thought to include not merely the number of floor levels within an HMO but also any other storeys including commercial premises not forming part of the HMO per se.  A block of flats with separate entrances via a communal stairway within the block will not normally constitute a large HMO unless it is a three storey maisonette with five or more unrelated tenants all sharing common kitchen or bathroom amenities.
  • However, if the entrance to an upper maisonette (say above a shop) is accessible from the ground floor with the entrance door to the maisonette on the ground floor and the stairway forms part of the maisonette then this is a large HMO if tenanted by 5 or more unrelated people sharing some amenities.
  • In the case of London Borough Islington v Unite Group Plc [2013] EWHC 508 (Admin) it was held that only the storeys within the actual HMO are counted. This distinction means recalculating the number of storeys of a property to categorise it as either a small HMO not required to be Mandatorily Licensed, or A Large HMO which must be Mandatorily Licensed.
  • Do not confuse other forms of property licensing: see Mandatory, Selective and Additional Licensing.
  • One cannot but question whether the judges ignored the spirit of the original legislation in that the purpose for the legislation was to make it safer for tenants whose lives are increasingly at risk in proportion to the number of storeys tenants are required to descend to escape a fire or; for rescuers to ascend to reach those trapped and unable to descend.  I personally think the judges may have got this one dangerously wrong!  Each situation should be risk assessed and provision made for protection and prevention.
Published: 11 November 2013 Last Updated: 17 November 2021