Additional Licensing Scheme

Additional Licensing Scheme 2023 Designation

The Mayor in Cabinet on the 25 October 2023 designated the whole Borough of Tower Hamlets as an area for additional licensing. The designation will be enforced from the 1 April 2024 and will be in force until the 31 March 2029 unless revoked earlier under section 60 of the Housing Act 2004.

The effect of the designation will require all privately let properties, including flats which are occupied by three or more persons comprising of two or more households, irrespective of the number of storeys to be licensed.

Multi-let properties

This designation also includes all relevant multi-let properties in the selective licensing area from the 1 April 2024. The information on the pages will be updated when the new additional licensing scheme is in force.

See the Notice of Designation of Area for Additional Licensing for Houses and Flats in Multiple Occupation

The Cabinet papers that brought the designation into force can be reviewed at: Tower Hamlets Council - Agenda for Cabinet on Wednesday, 25 October 2023, 5.30pm

Additional Licensing Scheme

From 1 April 2019, the council introduced an ‘Additional’ licensing scheme for multi-occupied premises under the provisions within Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004.

As of 1 April 2024 the Additional Licensing Scheme will cover the whole borough including the current Selective licensing designation (Spitalfields and Banglatown, Weavers, Whitechapel pre-2014 wards).

If you require any further information, please look at the Selective Licensing Scheme page.

The following wards are included in the Additional Licensing Scheme:

Island Gardens

St. Dunstan’s

Canary Wharf

Stepney Green

Blackwall and Cubitt Town



St. Katherine and Wapping


St. Peters


Bethnal Green

Mile End

Bow West

Bromley South

Bow East

Bromley North

 Spitalfields and Banglatown



Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

An HMO is a house or a flat which is occupied by three or four unrelated persons, who do not form a single household  and share amenities such as bathrooms– this definition is supported by Sections 254, 257 and 258 of the Housing Act 2004.

It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’.

An HMO could be a:

  • house split into separate bedsits
  • shared house or flat, where the sharers are not members of the same family
  • hostel
  • bed-and-breakfast hotel that is not just for holidays
  • shared accommodation for students – although many halls of residence and other types of student accommodation owned by educational establishments are not classed as HMOs.

There are two current HMO licensing schemes in the borough; Mandatory HMO Licence and Additional Licensing. Tower Hamlets also has a Selective Licensing Scheme which helps people in more extreme conditions. 

Tower Hamlets Additional Licensing Scheme

The Tower Hamlets Additional Licensing Scheme includes all properties were there;

  • are three or more people living as
  • two or more households and
  • they share facilities such as a bathroom or kitchen and
  • at least one of the tenants pays rent.

If the property has five or more occupants living as two or more households you may need a mandatory licence excluding blocks of flats . 

This Additional Licensing Scheme also includes flats with five or more tenants living as two or more households in purpose built blocks with three or more flats.

These properties are no longer licensable under the mandatory scheme following changes to the legislation in October last year but will need to be licensed under this new scheme.

Applying for an additional licence

The application form is online. Please read the guidance notes to ensure that you make your application successfully.

Apply for a Additional Licence

The documents you need to be able to submit a valid application.

  • Gas Safety Certificate or Commissioning form
  • Electrical Safety Certificate or Commissioning form
  • Floor Plans. 

You will also need the contact details, including full name, telephone number, postal and email address of the following people/organisations. (The definitions can be found in the glossary).

  • Proposed Licence Holder (if it is a company, they must be registered on Companies House).
  • Freeholder
  • Lease Holder/s
  • Managers
  • Rent/Collector Receivers
  • Mortgage Companies
  • Person Responsible for Repairs

Fit and proper person test

In deciding whether to grant a licence, the council must be satisfied that the proposed licence holder ‘…is a fit and proper person to be the licence holder…’ and that the proposed manager of the house 'is a fit and proper person to be the manager of the house…’

The licence may be revoked where the council no longer considers that the licence holder is a fit and proper person to be the licence holder… and where the council no longer considers that the management of the house is being carried on by persons who are not in each case fit and proper persons to be involved in its management.

This requirement is to ensure that those responsible for operating the licence and managing the property are of sufficient integrity and good character to be involved in the management of the particular residential property and as such they do not pose a risk to the welfare or safety of persons occupying the property.


There are exemptions to the requirement to be licensed and these are contained in schedule 14 of the Housing Act 2004 In Brief these include properties which are ;

  • controlled or managed by a Local Housing Authority
  • controlled or managed by registered social landlords and housing providers.
  • controlled and managed by police
  • controlled and managed by fire brigade
  • controlled and managed by Health Service Body
  • regulated by other enactments
  • occupied by religious communities (except section 257 HMOs)
  • occupied by two persons who form two households

Please check if the property is exempted before making an application. See lists of exemptions.

In some circumstances a temporary exemption from licensing can be granted. Temporary exemptions are only granted for three months.

The landlord must tell the council if the property no longer requires a license. For example:

  • if they are selling it into owner-occupation
  • if tenants have given notice (of their own accord) to vacate the property.

If the property is currently vacant or owner-occupied, and the landlord intends to keep it that way, then a temporary exemption is not required.

Please read our guidance to see if you are able to make an application for a temporary exemption.

Apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice

Licence conditions 

Once the licence is issued it becomes an offence if the conditions are breached.

There are three ways that conditions are added to the licence;

  1.  The legislation includes a set of mandatory conditions which the Council must attach to each licence issued.
  2. Councils can adopt a set of conditions to attach to every licence to address specific issues within their areas.
  3. Officers can attach conditions to individual licences if there are issues specific to the property.

Failure to meet licence conditions can result in a criminal conviction and an unlimited fine or be issued with a financial penalty of up to £30,000 for each condition breached. Please note the conditions for each scheme is different and you will need to refer to the  standard conditions for the Selective and the Mandatory licensing schemes. However, you must ensure you are aware of the conditions specific to your licence because there may be others attached by the officer.

The licence will specify the maximum number of people who may live in the HMO. It will also include the following conditions, which will apply to every licence:

  • a valid current gas safety certificate, which is renewed annually, must be provided
  • proof that all the electrical appliances and furniture are kept in a safe condition
  • proof that the fire detection and smoke alarm system is installed and functioning correctly
  • each occupier must have a written statement of the terms on which they occupy the property, i.e. a tenancy agreement
  • overall management and conditions of the property.

Amenities and rooms sizes

Tower Hamlets has adopted a set of amenity and room size standards at its October 2018 Cabinet meeting.

Number of occupiers

Minimum bedroom size for sleeping Kitchen facilities in a separate room


Minimum bedroom size for sleeping Kitchen facilities within the room








Any rooms below the Tower Hamlets minimum space standard above will not normally be considered suitable for sleeping accommodation although discretion may be granted if there is sufficient other communal space available to the occupiers. No rooms below 6.5m2 will be considered as suitable for sleeping rooms under any circumstances.

The amenity standard assures that residents have access to sufficient number of cookeing and bathing faciltiesetc. You can see the standards required here.

Length of the licence term

The licence is valid for 5 years in Tower Hamlets assuming no significant changes to the property or the ownership in that time. If changes do occur within the licence period, the licence holder must inform the council. The Council issue a licence for a shorter term under some circumstances.

Fees and refunds

View fees and charges

Fees can be paid online using a UK bank registered card. There is also the facility to make bulk payments for landlords with many properties.

Overseas landlords

It is unlikely that we would issue a licence to somebody living outside the UK. The Council will consider such a request if you can demonstrate that your duties as a Licence holder are adequately covered by a responsible person and that they have the authority and funds to carry out urgent repairs if needed. 

Penalties for unlicensed properties

The council has an enforcement policy which details how we deal with breaches of the legislation. The service also has a policy which details specifically with how we deal with offences related to property licensing. Operating an unlicensed property that should be licensed can result in a criminal conviction and an unlimited fine or a Financial Penalty of up to £30,000.

Any convictions can affect the fit and proper person status and could therefore result in limitation in being able to manage a licensable property in future. The landlord can also be subject to;

  • Rent repayment Orders (RROs). If you live in a HMO that should be licensed but isn't, your landlord can be fined and ordered to repay up to 12 months' rent (or housing benefit to the Council).
  • Reduced Capability to Evict. Many people living in HMOs have an assured shorthold tenancy If you're an assured shorthold tenant and the HMO should be licensed but isn't, any section 21 notice (two months' notice to leave) your landlord gives you is not valid.

Licensing Register

The Housing Act 2004 requires the council to hold a Register of Additional licensed properties in the borough.

Useful links

Fire, Gas and Electrical Safety

Property Licensing Conditions

Application Form Help

Property Licensing Enforcement


General Information