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Landlord Licensing Schemes

From 1 April there will be three licensing schemes for privately rented properties in the borough. To find out if a property needs to be licensed please answer the questions below.

  • Are there five or more occupants living as two or more households?

New Additional HMO Licensing Scheme

Coming on 1 April 2019

The new Additional Licensing scheme comes into force on 1 April 2019. There will be three licensing schemes in Tower Hamlets. Please use our filter questions to find out if your property needs to be licensed and which type of licence you needs. Please note that there are special rules related to properties that have been converted into flats that do not comply with the 1991 building regulations. If you live in a property that has been converted please contact the housing licensing team to find out if you need to be licensed and what type of licence you need.

All rented properties anywhere in the borough which are occupied by 3 or 4 people living as 2 or more separate households who share facilities and the property is not within the Selective area.

The Additional Licensing Scheme also includes flats with 5 or more tenants living as two or more households in purpose built blocks with three or more flats. The HMO definition also covers certain buildings that have been converted to self-contained flats, known as ‘Section 257 HMOs’. Cabinet approved the Additional licensing scheme in October 2018.   

From 1 April 2019 all properties that fall into this scheme need to be licensed.

The current fee for a five year licence can be seen in the fees and charges document.

Find out more about Additional licensing

 

Selective Licensing

Includes all privately rented properties in the areas of Whitechapel, Weavers, Spitalfields and Banglatown areas (based on the 2014 ward boundaries).

View our map to check if your property falls within the above areas – all you need is your postcode. Please note that the green area within the map is the selective licence area. If your property appears outside the green area it will not require a selective licence.

The current fee for a five year licence can be seen in the fees and charges document.

Find out more about Selective licensing

 

Mandatory Licensing

All rented properties anywhere in the borough which are occupied by five or people living as two or more separate households who share facilities. It has been a legal requirement to licence these properties since 2006. Flats in purpose built blocks, consisting of three or more flats, with at least 5 occupants from two or more households will require an additional licence rather than a mandatory licence, further details can be found on the on the website.

The current fee for a five year licence can be seen in the fees and charges document.

Find out more about Mandatory licensing

What are the aims of property licensing?

Licensing of private rented accommodation aims to ensure that;

  • the landlord is accredited and/or trained
  • there are plans in place to deal with anti-social behaviour
  • the property meets minimum standards to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the occupants are safeguarded
  • the landlord is  a ‘fit and proper person’ or employs agents who are
  • management arrangements are in place to report and carry out repairs
  • the accommodation has enough space and facilities for the number of occupiers
  • good landlords are not disadvantaged financially by those who operate below the standards required.

How do I make an application for a licence?

There is an electronic application form to complete on-line It is not fully supported by mobile devices or tablets and the browsers we recommend you use are either lE11 and above or Firefox. The links to the forms are above. Please make sure you use the right form by going through the filter questions at the top of this page.

You will be able to save the application and go back to it later but you are recommended to have all the documents ready. Please note pending applications are only kept on the system for 90 days from the initial submission date, after this time the software automatically deletes the information.

How much does a licence cost?

The fee is different for each type of licence. You can see this in the fees and charges document.

How do you use this information?

For how we use your data, read the Environmental Health and Trading Standards privacy notice.

You should note that it is a legal requirement for us to keep a public register of all licences issue. This will include the licence holders name and address given on the application form.

What do I need to complete the application?

Detailed guidance is available to help you with the application form.

1. Before you start you will need contact details for the Applicant as well as;

  • UK contact details for the proposed Licence Holder These details will be put onto our Public Register.
  • Freeholder/s
  • Mortgage Company
  • Leaseholder/s
  • Managers
  • Agents
  • Rent Collector
  • Details of any other property licenses held by the proposed licence whether they are in Tower Hamlets or not.

2. You need to be familiar with the layout of the property, where the fire detection and sounders are sited, the facilities available to tenants as well as room sizes and occupancy levels.

3. You will also need the following documents;

  • Gas safety check/commissioning certificate
  • Electrical safety check//commissioning certificate  (flats and houses in multiple occupation only)
  • Floor Plans (HMOs) only (link to floor plan help)

4. You will need details of any unspent convictions of the proposed licence holder, manager or other people who have access to the property, or any associates of these people.

5. You will need a UK registered bank card to pay the fee

Are any properties exempt?

In brief properties are exempt from property licensing if they 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)

What if I want to stop letting my property?

We issue temporary exemption notices (TENs) for licensable properties  where we have evidence that steps are being taken which will exempt the property from requiring a license under Part 2 or 3 of the Housing Act 2004. It is unlikely we would issue a TEN if the steps you are taking are likely to take longer than 3 months.

Apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice.

What happens if I don’t get a Licence?

It is an offence to operate a licensable property if it is not licenced. The Council’s enforcement policy sets out how we enforce against landlords of unlicensed properties. The penalties include a criminal conviction and unlimited fine or a financial penalty of up to £30,000. While the property remains unlicensed your tenant can apply for a Rent Repayment Order and you will be severely limited in taking eviction proceedings against your tenants.

What standard does my property need to meet?

Tower Hamlets Private Renters' Charter sets out in accessible language the standards the law demands from all private landlords and agents.  The council and every organisation signed up to the charter aims to support mainstream landlords and agents as well as tenants by making sure that every rented room, flat or house in Tower Hamlets meets these standards – and by driving out the criminals who won’t obey the law. 

Disrepair

The property should not have any serious hazards assessed under the Housing Health and Safety. Rating System  (HHSRS).

Fire Safety

All properties should have some fire detection in place.  The level of protection depends on the risks, smaller single family homes may only need a smoke detector on each floor. Larger HMO’s may need a full interlinked fire detection system. You can find out more about fire safety standards here. Where there are log burners installed, a carbon monoxide detector should be installed. You can see the recommended fire safety guidance.

We realise that this LACORS guidance is lengthy and can seem complex; however detailed case studies are provided which are easy to follow. For larger HMOs where the risks are greater landlords might want to engage the services of a competent fire risk assessor to carry out the assessment for them. Although we can give some verbal advice the service does not have the capacity to carry out individual assessments requiring a site visit.

Amenity Standards

Tower Hamlets has adopted a set of amenity standards to ensure that properties are not overcrowded and enough facilities for the tenants to live there safely. View these housing standards. The amenity standards applies to all licensable properties.

How can I make sure I’m a competent landlord?

The London Landlord Accreditation Scheme provides accreditation, training and on-going professional development to landlords and agents. With over 32000 members, LLAS is the biggest and most established scheme of its kind.  LLAS provides a one-day basic training course, covering all aspects of tenancy and property management. LLAS also offers additional training opportunities specialising in particular areas of interest. Landlords and agents receive a Landlord Guide USB following their training.  Training courses take place throughout London including on a regular basis in Tower Hamlets.  

The Tower Hamlets Landlords Forum

The Tower Hamlets Landlords and Agents Forum meets three times a year.  It is an opportunity to meet with colleagues, competitors and council officers and to discuss issues that impact on your work as landlords, letting agents, and managing agents in Tower Hamlets. Meetings are a way to hear about and influence council policy and to learn about the latest changes in housing law.  If you would like to register on our invitation list, please contact marc.lancaster@towerhamlets.gov.uk. We will announce 2019’s dates shortly.

Once my property is licensed, what does the council expect from me? 

The council expects that properties will be well managed and provide safe homes for your tenants. We expect you to carry out regular checks of your property to prevent sub-letting and over occupation and to ensure there are no repairs needed. How regular these checks are will depend on your relationship with your tenants. Ensure to give notice when you visit and we recommend you make a note of the visit and what issues you found.

Your licence will have conditions attached which you must ensure you read and understand because you will be responsible for ensuring they are complied with. Some of the conditions are mandatory and will be attached to each licence, the council can add to these conditions if there issues that need to be addressed. Conditions include;

  • providing your tenants with bins and ensuring that they know how and when it gets collected.
  • dealing with any anti-social behaviour caused by your tenants
  • obtaining references for any new tenancies
  • keeping all certification up to date.

Will my details be available to the public?

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

Contact information

Email: Housinglicensing@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Telephone: 020 7364 5008

Write to:

Environmental Health and Trading Standards

London Borough of Tower Hamlets
John Onslow House
1 Ewart Place
London
E3 5EQ

Useful links

Fire, Gas and Electrical Safety

Property licensing conditions

Application form help

Property licensing enforcement

Legislation

General information