Many London landlords find themselves perplexed by licensing schemes that vary widely between different boroughs across the city. HMO licensing in particular is in a state of continual expansion and revision, leaving property investors in doubt about the status and legality of their portfolios. We take a look at a variety of recent and upcoming changes, plus the latest announcements from various boroughs about both selective and HMO licensing.
Don’t forget, all HMOs consisting of 5 or more people must be licensed under the nationwide mandatory HMO licensing scheme, and all HMOs consisting of 7 or more people require planning consent from the local council.
Barking & Dagenham
Barking & Dagenham council introduced a new selective licensing scheme on 1st September 2019 covering all rented properties across the entire borough. There was an additional HMO licensing scheme but it ended in August, although the council is consulting to restart this licensing scheme too. If approved additional HMO licensing could restart in 2020. Stay up to date with the council's plans by checking their website regularly.
Brent is seeking to renew and expand their selective licensing scheme, proposing to add another 10 more wards, as well as renew the existing additional HMO licensing scheme. These schemes are due to end this year, specifically on 31st December. The new wards being considered for inclusion in the selective licensing scheme are Queensbury, Fryent, Brondesbury Park, Barnhill, Welsh Harp, Northwick Park, Preston, Tokyngton (excluding Wembley Park), Alperton and Sudbury. More information can be found on the Brent website.
Enfield council has announced plans to introduce two borough-wide new licensing schemes, specifically covering all HMOs under an additional HMO licensing scheme, and a selective licensing scheme for all rented property that would affect two thirds of the borough. The consultation process is open, so to have your say or find more information just look here.
Havering council currently has an additional HMO licensing scheme covering 12 wards but they have announced plans to expand by a further 6 wards, which would include Cranham, Emerson Park, Hacton, Hylands, St Andrew’s and Upminster. The council is also proposing to introduce a selective scheme requiring all rented properties in the wards of Romford Town and Brookland to be licenced. Their consultation process closed in September, and the results are yet to be published, but you can read more about council’s plans here.
Hounslow council were planning to introduce a borough-wide additional HMO licensing scheme from 1st November 2019, but these plans were dropped following objections from the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and Safeagent. It was claimed that the council had failed to follow due process during both the consultation and decision making process, and gave the impression it was a ‘rubber stamping’ exercise.
Landlords that have already applied for a license under the new scheme are entitled to a full refund and should contact the council directly via the options shown here.
Islington council is proposing a new borough-wide additional HMO licensing scheme plus a new selective licensing scheme covering the ward of Finsbury Park only. Consultation is currently underway, with the public survey closing on 3rd November 2019 so give your opinion before the consultation closes. Find more details and the survey link here.
Lewisham council is considering two new licensing schemes. The first would cover all rental properties throughout the entire borough under a selective licensing scheme (subject to central Government approval) and the second would affect HMOs under a borough-wide additional HMO licensing scheme. It is possible they will look to introduce both schemes. The public consultation process closed in August, and the results are yet to be published but Lewisham's page for private landlords has more details on these proposal and can be viewed here.
Tower Hamlets council isn’t changing the current licensing schemes, but they are proposing to use planning powers to restrict new HMOs being created. They have proposed an Article 4 Direction which could come into force across the whole borough from 1st January 2021. If this comes into effect then HMOs consisting of 3 or more people will require planning consent as well as a licence. You can check the current licensing rules in Tower Hamlets here and read more about the proposed planning changes here.
Waltham Forest council intend to commence a borough-wide additional HMO licensing scheme from 1st April 2020. They also plan to renew their selective licensing scheme but it won’t cover the entire borough as it currently does - the wards of Endlebury and Hatch Lane would be excluded. Their selective licensing scheme is subject to central Government approval, but they hope to start on 1st April 2020 alongside the new additional HMO licensing scheme. Landlords with properties in Waltham Forest can find more information on the council's proposed changes here.
Landlords can find contact details for all London boroughs that Foxtons covers on our Property Licensing page, along with helpful advice and information on licensing and HMOs.