October 19, 2020

It’s time for Landlords to have their say.

The NRLA believes it’s time for Landlords to have their say on plans to introduce licensing schemes in a number of regions across the country.

There are a number of local authorities currently consulting on licensing plans, and the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) wants landlords to respond to all local authority licensing consultations that affect them.  Tower Hamlets is one of them.  The council is consulting on plans to “renew, alter or end” a selective licensing scheme that is currently operational in three areas of the London borough. The scheme is due to come to an end in October 2021.


The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is in East London covering an area of 8 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Hackney to the north, Newham to the east, the City of London to the west and with the River Thames to the south. According to the 2011 Census about 33% of the housing stock was privately rented which is significantly above the London average of 25% (1 in 4). There are currently three different licensing schemes in Tower Hamlets.  


You may need a licence if you rent your property to a single family or individual as Tower Hamlets Council have implemented a selective licensing scheme in certain parts of the borough. The scheme came into force on 1 October 2016 and lasts for five years until 30 September 2021.


If you rent your property as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), you will need to get it licensed under either the additional licensing scheme, the selective licensing scheme or the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies throughout England. The additional licensing scheme started on 1 April 2019.


  1. Mandatory HMO licence


You will need a mandatory HMO licence if your property meets the standard test, self-contained flat test or converted building test HMO definition in section 254 of the Housing Act 2004 and is occupied by five or more people.


But what are these tests and what does this mean in practice? It means you need a licence for any house or flat that is occupied by five or more people who are not all related and live in the property as their main home, including:


  • Shared houses and flats occupied by students and young professionals;
  • Properties converted into bedsits with some shared facilities; and
  • Properties converted into a mixture of self-contained and non self-contained accommodation.  


Prior to 1 October 2018, the mandatory HMO licensing scheme only applied to properties that were three or more storeys in height, but that restriction has now been lifted.


  1. Additional licence


The additional licensing scheme started on 1 April 2019 and continues for five years until 31 March 2024, unless the council decides to implement a replacement scheme.


It applies to all HMOs in the borough that are occupied by three or more people, except for those in the pre 2014 wards of Weavers, Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Banglatown. In effect, the scheme excludes the area covered by their selective licensing scheme.


The council have included ‘section 257 HMOs: certain converted blocks of flats’ in the scheme. These are properties that:


  • have been converted into self-contained flats; and
  • less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied; and
  • the conversion did not comply with the relevant Building Regulations in force at that time and still does not comply.


  1. Selective licence


You need a selective licence if your property (house or flat) is let out to a single person, couple or single household in Whitechapel, Weavers, Spitalfields and Banglatown, based on the council ward boundaries that existed pre 22 May 2014 – in the west of the borough.  


The selective licensing scheme will also apply to most HMOs in that area that are not already licensed under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.

We hope you’ve found this post on It’s time for Landlords to have their say on plans to introduce licensing schemes useful. If you’re a Landlord within the area looking for advice, our team of experts are on hand to help.  We, Keatons, pride ourselves on knowing the area inside out, and we promise to be transparent with you from the outset.  Get in touch with a member of our team today to find out more.

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