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Birmingham City Council Licensing: Do you know what a section 257 HMO is?

We’re always at the forefront in making sure our properties and clients are compliant which is why we’ve been in contact with Birmingham City Council recently about Section 257 HMOs, which were included in the Additional Licensing scheme, but until today (12 Sept 23), there was no information about how to obtain a licence for one on the council’s website.

Do you know what a section 257 HMO is?

Section 257 HMOs are properties which are defined as HMOs by section 257 of the Housing Action 2004. They do not require a licence under the national mandatory standards unless a local authority includes them in an Additional Licensing scheme.

The Housing Act 2004 defines a HMO in section 257 as:

  • A building or part of a building that has been converted into self-contained flats, and
  • if the building work carried out during the conversion did not comply with the appropriate building standards, and
  • if less than two-thirds of the self-contained flats are owner-occupied.
 The term “appropriate building standards” refers to the building standards that applied at the time of the conversion. For converted blocks of flats completed before June 1st, 1992, or subject to regulation 20 of the Building Regulations 1991, the standards equivalent to those in effect on June 1st, 1992, apply. For other converted blocks of flats, the requirements imposed by regulations under section 1 of the Building Act 1984 apply.

In an Upper Tribunal, it was confirmed that it is the landlords’ responsibility to prove that the correct buildings regulations have been adhered to, rather than for the local authority to prove that they had not been.

A flat is considered “owner-occupied” if it is occupied by a person with a lease lasting more than 21 years, by a person who owns the freehold of the converted block of flats, or by a member of the household of such individuals.

The application of this section to a converted block of flats does not affect the status of any individual flat within the block as a house in multiple occupation which may also need their own licenses. 

Many local authorities further exclude types of properties from the Section 257 definition when they publish their Additional Licensing schemes; for example, these exclusions are made in the designation document from Birmingham City Council:

The HMO is specifically excluded from the scheme as it is either:

(i) a section 257 HMO consisting solely of two flats where neither of the flats is situated above or below commercial premises; or

(ii) a section 257 HMO where the flats share no internal or external common parts and which are no more than two storeys high.

So, make sure to check the Article 4 Designation document for your local authority.

You can read more on our website.

What to do if you own a Section 257 HMO in Birmingham?

This is the advice published by Birmingham City Council today:

“You may need to apply for a section 257 additional license if you operate a property that has been converted into self-contained flats and meets the following criteria:

  • the conversion of the property did not comply with the Building Regulations 1991
  • two thirds or more of the flats in the property are rented out

The section 257 license is only for the building as a whole. Individual flats in the building may also require separate licenses, depending on their circumstances.

If you believe that your property may be subject to section 257 licensing, email the property licensing team at”

What about other local authorities?

Many councils which have implemented additional licensing schemes have included Section 257 HMOs in their Additional Licensing schemes; check their websites for more information.

Birmingham Licensing Deadline: 4th September 2023

If you own licensable properties in Birmingham and haven’t made your applications yet, you need to do so asap, the deadline to submit applications was 4th September 2023. You are now liable to enforcement action from Birmingham City Council with potentially unlimited fines. Read more about Additional and Selective Licencing here.

How Purple Frog can help

Our team can help with all licencing issues. If you just want some advice, or for us to make the applications for you, drop us an email (, or book a call with one of our experts.

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