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Additional Licensing Scheme

Houses/Flats in Multiple Occupation Additional Licensing Scheme

From the 01st of April 2019, the council will be introducing an ‘Additional’ licensing scheme for multi-occupied premises under the provisions within the Housing Act 2004. This Additional Licensing Scheme will cover the whole borough excluding the current Selective licensing designation (Spitalfields and Banglatown, Weavers, Whitechapel pre-2014 wards). If you require any further information regarding the Selective Licensing Scheme, please see link Selective Licensing Scheme

The areas where the Additional Licensing Scheme will be implemented are in the following wards:

  • Island Gardens

  • Canary Wharf

  • Blackwall and Cubitt Town

  • Poplar

  • Lansbury

  • Limehouse

  • Mile End

  • Bromley South

  • Bromley North

  • St. Dunstan’s

  • Stepney Green

  • Shadwell

  • St. Katherine and Wapping

  • St. Peters

  • Bethnal Green

  • Bow West

  • Bow East

  • Shadwell

To view the designated areas, please view the map Additional Licensing Map

Consideration of an Additional Licensing Scheme

The Housing Act 2004 gives powers to local authorities to require other Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) outside of the Mandatory scheme to be licensed in specific circumstances. HMOs play a key role in meeting the housing needs of residents in the Borough. It is estimated that there could be as many as 9,000 HMOs within the Borough. It is recognised that there are many good landlords operating in Tower Hamlets, but unfortunately there are also those who do not maintain their properties leaving tenants at risk and giving potential problems to neighbouring properties. Enforcement action against landlords can be costly, resource intensive and notoriously complicated. The Environmental Health and Trading Standards Service deal with such issues on a mainly reactive basis where there is a mandatory duty to licence a premises or to take enforcement action.

There are currently 2 licensing schemes operating in Tower Hamlets:

  1. Mandatory HMO licences – for properties with 5 or more tenants from two or more households. This is Borough wide (this excludes flats within purpose built blocks of flats).

  2. Selective licences – this is required for any privately rented property irrespective of number of floors or tenants within Weavers, Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Banglatown wards.

The Additional Licensing Scheme for Tower Hamlets will include all properties with three or more tenants forming two or more different households irrespective of the property type i.e. it is to include all flats and houses.

What are the issues?

Examples of properties being managed ineffectively and therefore having a detrimental effect on an area are:

  • where the external condition and curtilage adversely impacts on the general character and amenity of the area

  • where the HMO has not been set up to meet the needs of the number of people living there, for example, because it lacks adequate fire precautions; insufficient kitchen, bathroom or toilet amenities; bedrooms are undersized, etc

  • where the internal condition, such as poorly maintained amenities, leaks, damp and dirty conditions, pest infestations or overcrowding adversely impact on the health safety and welfare of the tenants and the landlords are failing to take the appropriate remedial action

  • where there are significant and persistent problems of anti-social behaviour affecting other residents and/or the local community and the landlords are not taking steps to address the issues

  • the lack of management or poor management skills or practices is otherwise adversely impacting on the health, safety and welfare of the tenants and/or the wider community.

What are the benefits of a borough wide Additional Licensing Scheme?

The introduction of an Additional Licensing Scheme for HMO’s would be the best way to regulate such premises by:

  • targeting resources at the properties and management arrangements of most concern

  • promote engagement with landlords, tenants and agents with an involvement with HMOs

  • assist with raising standards in the private rented market in relation to health, safety and welfare of the occupants – thus reducing the need for expensive intervention strategies

  • helping to improve standards of fire safety which are a particular problem in HMOs, benefitting HMO occupiers and people who live in neighbouring properties

  • enable licensed HMOs database to be published on our website

  • assist with the identification of the worst properties to enable the Services to work with landlords and managing agents to bring them up to standard

  • enable local residents, occupiers or potential occupiers to inform the council of any HMO’s which they think need a licence but do not have one

  • prevent overcrowding by setting limits as to the number of permitted occupiers and number of permitted households

  • assist with reducing any associated detrimental impacts upon local neighbourhoods and reducing the number of complaints

  • ensure that criminal landlords are targeted and dealt with appropriately and to make certain that only those proven to be fit and proper persons can have control over an HMO

  • promote engagement between enforcers (such as Environmental Health and Trading Standards Depts.) with the various tenants’ advice services to tackle poor practice and exploitation of tenants by local landlords

  • helping to prevent exploitation of tenants by ensuring that they are issued with lawful tenancies and are aware of their rights, keeping people secure in their homes and preventing illegal evictions

  • making sure that HMOs can take their proper place among other dwelling types in the housing market, and that they are not a choice of last resort.

Once the Additional Licensing Scheme is introduced, focus would be on enabling and supporting landlords who are, or wish to be compliant, whilst targeting those landlords who do not comply with the legislation for enforcement action.

The aim of the licensing scheme is to improve the management of these properties to ensure that they have a positive impact on the area.

How would it work?

All landlords or lettings agents of HMOs that are within the licensed area and which either:

  • do not require a mandatory licence or

  • are properties that are within the current Selective licensing area (Spitalfields and Banglatown, Weavers, Whitechapel pre 2014 wards)

will need to apply for a licence for each property they let that fits the criteria, i.e. all properties with three or more tenants forming two or more different households irrespective of the property type.

The licence will contain certain conditions that would require the landlord or letting agent to meet certain standards before they can legally rent out the property. In order to become a licence holder, the landlord or letting agent must also pass a fit and proper person test. The application will be assessed by an Environmental Health officer. An inspection of the property may be carried out and a licence will be issued with mandatory conditions that must be followed.

What do I need to provide?

In order to demonstrate competent property management, the landlord should provide evidence on application: 

  • annual gas safety certificate

  • electrical installation condition certificate in the last 5 years and a portable appliance test certificate

  • an automated alarm system in the event of fire, and if appropriate emergency lighting.

  • evidence of arrangements which demonstrate competent property management – management records and copies of tenancy agreements

  • floor plan with room and kitchen sizes clearly shown

  • copy of the EPC where this applies

  • current occupancy details (tenancy agreements)

The Amenity Standards

The amenity standards will also apply to the existing Mandatory licensed Houses in Multi-occupied and Selective Licensing Scheme from the 1st January 2019 and to the Additional Licensing Scheme from 1st April 2019.

Useful documents


Further advice and information can be obtained from the council:

Tel: 020 7364 5008

Email: housinglicensing@towerhamlets.gov.uk


Environmental Health and Trading Standards

London Borough of Tower Hamlets

John Onslow House

1 Ewart Place


E3 5EQ

Application forms for licences will be made available nearer the time before the designation comes into force.