Property Licensing

Housing

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COVID-19 Private Sector Housing:

The government has brought forward a package of measures to protect renters affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). With these in force, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home.

Government advice for landlords and renters reflecting the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Property Licensing in Waltham Forest

Property licensing provides a framework that helps us to regulate the condition and management of private rented properties in the borough. We license properties to:

  • improve property standards
  • help tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB)
  • Keep our residents safe

We have very clear scheme objectives about what we must achieve from property licensing.

It is a criminal offence for landlords and managing agents to let out a property that is not properly licensed.  Where such offences take place, the Council may take enforcement action either by way of instigating criminal prosecution proceedings or considering imposing a fine of up to £30,000 for each offence against each person responsible for letting an unlicensed privately rented property. An application for a Rent Repayment Order (RRO) may also be made which, if granted, will require the landlord to pay back up to 12 months rental income from the property. Further information may be found in the Council’s Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy.

Selective licensing Click to get info

A new selective licensing scheme came into force on Friday 1st May 2020. 

It applies to all privately rented properties that are let to a single-family household or two unrelated sharers. The scheme operates in all wards in the borough except Hatch Lane & Endlebury. The scheme will expire on 30 April 2025. Some exemptions apply.

Applications for selective licences made from 1st May to 31st October 2020 are eligible for an ‘early bird’ discount of £250 against the full fee of £700. The licence fee is split into two parts – only the fee covering the up-front processing costs is payable when the application is made. This enables the landlord to spread the cost of the fee over several months. A further discount of £100 is available for certain multiple properties.

See How much does a property licence cost? for more information on fees.

Each licence can last up to a maximum of 5 years or until the scheme expires on 30 April 2025. Licensed properties must comply with the selective licence conditions. Failure to comply with the licence conditions will be dealt with either informally or formally through enforcement action. See the Council’s Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy for more information.

Please note that some properties that had a selective licence in the last scheme may now need a different licence (either additional or mandatory HMO licence) if they are rented to three or more unrelated occupiers. These are still required for properties in Hatch Lane and Endlebury wards.

The selective licence scheme was approved by the Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday 11th July 2019 and confirmed by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on Tuesday 21st January 2020.  See the public notice for the Designation of Selective Licensing for more information.

Mandatory HMO licensing Click to get info

A mandatory HMO licence will apply if your property is occupied by five or more unrelated people, forming two or more households and who share amenities such as kitchens or bathrooms. This is a national scheme and applies to all properties meeting the criteria in every local authority across England. Some exemptions apply.

The standard fee for a mandatory HMO licence is:

  • £1,500 for an HMO with up to 8 units
  • £2,000 for an HMO with 9 to19 units
  • £5,000 for an HMO with 20 units or more

All application fees will be taken in two payments:

  •  Part A payment of 50% upon licence application
  • and a Part B payment of 50% at the point that the Council determines to grant the licence, if that is the decision.

Examples of mandatory HMOs include:

  • a house let as individual bed sitting rooms
  • a group of rooms on each floor let to single occupants
  • hostels, some hotels, guesthouses
  • lodgings, and shared houses

The occupiers of the HMO include both adults and any children residing at the address.

There are strict regulations around the property standards of mandatory HMOs. Failure to comply with these standards will be dealt with either informally or formally through enforcement action. See the Council’s Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy for more information.

Additional HMO licensing Click to get info

This borough-wide scheme came into force on Wednesday 1st April 2020 and will apply to any property occupied by three or more individuals that is not captured by mandatory HMO licensing.  

This includes multiple-occupied flats in purpose-built blocks containing more than two flats, where the flat is occupied by more than 3 people.

Applications for additional licences made from 1st April to 31st Oct 2020 will be eligible for an ‘early bird’ discount of £250 against the full fee of £1,000.

The licence fee is split into two parts – only the fee covering the up-front processing costs is payable when the application is made. This enables the landlord to spread the cost of the fee over several months. A further discount of £100 is available for certain multiple properties.

See How much does a property licence cost? for more information on fees.

Each licence can last up to a maximum of 5 years or until the scheme expires on 31 March 2025. Licensed properties must comply with the additional licence conditions. Failure to comply with the licence conditions will be dealt with either informally or formally through enforcement action. See the Council’s Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy for more information.

The scheme was approved by the Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday 11th July 2019. See the public notice for the designation of additional licensing for more information.

When you are ready to apply you will need to set up a new landlord user account.

If you enter your property details correctly, the online application process will automatically calculate the type of property licence is required. The system will save your application as you progress through the application process, allowing you to review, update and load any documents that may be required.

If you’re the owner of multiple rented properties in the borough, you must complete an application for each property.

Make sure that you are the right person applying for the licence, as certain restrictions apply .

The Council will need to inform all interested parties of your application.

If you are having problems with your application, you can contact the Council’s Private Sector Housing and Licensing team:

It is a criminal offence to enter fraudulent property information and doing so can result in prosecution and an unlimited fine.

Who can apply for a licence?

The proposed licence holder needs to be the most appropriate person, usually the property owner or the manager employed by the owner or the person in receipt of rent.

At the very least, the Council expects the licence holder to have the power to:

  • let and terminate the tenancies
  • have access to all parts of the premises (to the same extent as the owner would)

If the property is being managed by someone other than the licence holder, it needs to be clear which licence conditions, if any, they are responsible for. If there is no such pre-agreed declaration, all licence conditions will be deemed the responsibility of the licence holder.

Please note that an application for a property licence from a non-UK resident will only be considered valid if there is a managing agent based in the UK who agrees to be bound by the conditions and obligations imposed by the licence by signing a declaration to confirm this.

Applications from limited companies will only be accepted from companies with a UK registered office (the licence will be in the company name).

Suitability to hold a licence

In order to obtain a property licence, the proposed licence holder will need to demonstrate that they are a ‘fit and proper’ person i.e. they are suitable to have the responsibility.

This will involve making a declaration to confirm their status with regards to criminal offences.

In determining whether an applicant is ‘fit and proper’ the Council must consider any evidence found that the person applying for a licence has:

  • committed any offence involving fraud or other dishonesty, violence, drugs and certain sexual offence
  • practised unlawful discrimination on the ground of sex, colour, race, ethnic or national origins or disability in connection with any business
  • contravened any provision of the law relating to housing or landlord and tenant law

The applicant must also be able to demonstrate that satisfactory management and financial arrangements are in place for each rented property. Failure to meet the fit and proper person test may result in an application for a licence being refused.

Licence fees will be taken in two parts.

  • Part A will be taken upon application and will cover the cost to process and determine the application.
  • Part B will be taken once the Council has determined to grant a licence and will cover the administration, management and enforcement of the scheme.

Please note that fees are non-refundable for submitted applications or if you decide to sell or stop letting your property.

Selective Licence - Full licence fee is £700

  • Part A £250 
  • Part B £450 

Early Bird discounted licence fee if application is received before 31 October 2020: £450

  • Part A: £250
  • Part B: £200

Additional HMO licence - Full licence fee £1,000

  • Part A £500
  • Part B £500

Early bird discounted licence fee if applications is received before 31 October 2020: £750

  • Part A: £500
  • Part B: £250

Mandatory HMO

HMO with up to 8 units - Full licence fee: £1,500

  • Part A: £750 
  • Part B: £750 

HMO with up to 9 to 19 units - Full licence fee: £2,000

  • Part A: £1,000 
  • Part B: £1,000

HMO with 20 units or more - Full licence fee: £5,000

  • Part A: 2,500
  • Part B: £2,500

Multi property discount 

Under the selective and additional (HMO) licence schemes, landlords or managing agents with multiple properties may be eligible for a discount of £100 per dwelling in the same building, after their first licence.

For a discount to be issued on multiple properties:

  • each of the dwellings must be separate dwellings (usually self-contained flats), which are contiguous to one another in the same building
  • each of the dwellings must be occupied under non “exempt tenancies”
  • each of the dwellings have common ownership and management control.

For more information please see Licence applications under parts 2 and 3 Housing Act (Sep 2018).

Selective licence - multi-property discount
Discounted licence fee: £600

  • Part A £150
  • Part B £450

Additional HMO licence - multi-property discount
Discounted licence fee: £900

  • Part A £400
  • Part B £500

Energy performance rating discount

Properties that become newly available for rent after the end of the early bird period, and which have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of C or above, will be able to apply for a discounted licence.

Selective Licence EPC rating of C or above - Discounted licence fee: £450

  • Part A £250
  • Part B £200

Additional HMO licence EPC rating of C or above - Discounted licence fee: £750

  • Part A £500
  • Part B £250

Discount on selective licence fees for eligible charities

There is a discounted selective licence fee of £300 for eligible charities. An “eligible charity” is a corporation, organisation or body which are charities, including almshouses, whose charitable objectives include the provision of housing (a) let at below market rent and (b) that is specially designed or adapted to meet the needs of the disabled, the elderly or the infirm or of other persons having a protected characteristic within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010.

Selective licence discount for eligible charities - Discounted licence fee: £300

  • Part A £250
  • Part B £50

There is a further additional discount of £100 per dwelling for landlords with subsequent properties in the same block (see multi-property discount above)

What is a household? Click to get info

A single household is made up of family members, a couple, two unrelated people sharing the same home or a single person.

Unrelated adults that are not a couple or part of a family are treated as separate households. A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property that is occupied by people who do not form a single family household but are from multiple, separate households.

Examples of multiple households/multiple occupation include:

  • a family and a friend renting together
  • more than two students sharing a house
  • more than two professional friends sharing a flat
  • multiple casual workers each renting a separate room in a house and sharing

The households must all share amenities such as kitchens and bathrooms.

What is considered a family member?

A person is considered a member of the family of another person if:

  • he or she lives with that person as a couple
  • one of them is the relative of the other
  • or is a relative of one member of the couple.

and where

  • “couple” means two people who are married to each other or live together as husband and wife or in an equivalent arrangement in the case of persons of the same sex
  • “relative” means a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or first cousin (where the first cousin is a child of a parent's sibling; a nephew or niece of a parent; a child of one's uncle or aunt; a person who shares common grandparents but not common parents)
  • a relationship of the half-blood is to be treated as a relationship of the whole blood
  • a stepchild of a person is to be treated as his/her child.

It will help if you have the following documentation available when you start your application:

  • details of the licence holder (e.g. name and date of birth of the appointed licence holder)
  • details about the property structure and safety equipment
  • property facilities and room sizes (HMOs only)
  • certificates e.g. gas safety, electrical (HMOs only) etc
  • tenancy agreement
  • photo of the front and back of your property
  • name and addresses of persons and organisations with an interest in the property (such as freeholders, leaseholders, managing agents, mortgage provider)
  • payment card details.

On receipt of your application, you’ll be sent an acknowledgement email with a unique application reference number

  • In determining a licence application, the Council will review any available information relating to the proposed licence holder, and any separate property manager, against its ‘fit and proper’ criteria.
  • We will ask for the latest gas or electric safety certificates and check any other relevant documents/certification.
  • For all additional and mandatory HMO property licence applications, we will need to arrange a property inspection by a council officer. The officer will determine if any improvement works are necessary. Any improvement works must be carried out within a specific time period.
  • Prior to issuing its decision, the Council will issue its proposal to grant or refuse a licence to the landlord or managing agent. Documentation will include details of any works required and permitted numbers who will be allowed to occupy the property
  • Details will also be sent to all interested parties such as mortgagees, who will be given 14 working days to make any representations. The final decision to grant or refuse the licence is made, taking into account any representations received
  • A formal notification will be sent out to the applicant and all interested persons
  • If granted, the licence is usually issued for a five-year period, but a shorter licence may be granted if there are concerns relating to the management of the property, or about the physical condition of the premises. For such premises, a one-year licence would normally be issued.
  • Once a licence has been issued, the property may be inspected periodically to check if any works requested at the approval stage have been carried out and to check that good management standards are being maintained

The Council is required to compile and maintain a public register of licensed properties.

The Council will decide whether to grant or refuse a licence. In the event that there are no contra-indications (that relate to the proposed licence holder or the property), the Council will normally grant a licence that has a ‘full term’ duration of 5 years.

Where the Council may decide that a licence should be granted but that for a specific reason, such as planning consent or issues with the management of the property, a full-term licence is not appropriate. In such cases, it will normally grant a licence for a reduced term of one year or vary an existing licence to that shorter licence period.

The Council may also decide to refuse a licence application – for example where it considers that the proposed licence holder and/or manager is not a ‘fit and proper person’. The Council follows a written policy in determining an application for a property licence.

Property Inspections

Additional licence and mandatory HMO licence applications require a property inspection prior to a licence decision being made.

For selective licensing, property inspections can be made at any time during the term of the licence.

Audit and compliance checks and inspections can be carried out on licensed properties at any time.

Property inspections:

  • normally take between 20 minutes to 1 hour
  • take place on a date and time pre-arranged with the tenant/occupier or landlord, where possible
  • are carried out by an officer who must be accompanied by an appointed adult (e.g. the tenant, property owner or a representative appointed by the owner)
  • result in an inspection report which can be shared with the landlord.

In situations where the officer finds that the licence conditions and/or property standards are not being met, or that information provided by the applicant is incorrect, several options are available, including:

  • the licence holder may be asked to vary the information previously supplied
  • the landlord may be asked to carry out improvement works
  • prosecution or penalty for non-compliance with the licensing scheme.

Property Standards

Each licence scheme has its own set of licence conditions, some of which relate to maintenance of privately rented homes in a reasonable state of internal and external repair.

The council also has a published set of property standards. This document is intended to guide landlords on the standard of repair that we expect from privately rented accommodation. The guidance is aimed at houses and self-contained flats occupied by a single household. It covers reasonable repair and provides information regarding space standards and housing hazards.

Additional requirements apply to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and buildings containing flats.

Health & Safety Checks (HMOs only)

A licence will normally be granted to a property that:

  • has appropriate fire safety measures in place, such as smoke detectors
  • has a valid annual gas safety certificate
  • has adequate cooking and washing facilities
  • is not overcrowded
  • has electrical wiring and appliances that have been checked and certified as safe
  • has communal and shared areas that are kept clean and in good repair (HMOs).

Planning Permission Click to get info

If you a changing a building and intend to rent it out, you might require planning permission if you intend to:

  • convert a house into flats
  • extend a property
  • alter the external appearance of an existing building
  • change the use from a single-family dwelling into an HMO

A rented property that is operating as an HMO must have the correct class of planning use. You may need to apply for planning permission to change it from C3 (dwelling house) to C4 (house in multiple occupation).

There is no guarantee that your planning application will be approved, but if you rent out your property you must have a property licence. If you are refused planning permission for an HMO but have applied and/or been issued with an additional or mandatory HMO licence, we cannot refund your licence fee.

Find out if you require planning permission.

Appealing the decision to refuse or issue a property licence

If you do not agree with the licence decision or the terms or conditions of your licence, you can appeal to a Residential Property Tribunal (RPT). Members of the public can also appeal against a licence being issued.

You must make your appeal within 28 days from the date on which the decision was made.

You should write to:

Residential Property Tribunal
10 Alfred Place
London
WC1E 7LR

The Council recognises that the legislative provisions contemplate circumstances in which a single property licence may relate to more than one separate dwelling in the same building (“a multi-dwelling licence”). However, for the reasons outlined below, the Council will usually decide that each separate dwelling in a building has its own, individual property licence (“an individual property licence”).

The Council may grant a multi-dwelling licence where:

  • each of the dwellings are separate (usually self-contained flats), which are contiguous to one another in the same building; and
  • each of the dwellings are occupied under non “exempt tenancies”; and
  • each of the dwellings are within common ownership and management control; and
  • there are no other contra-indications that would mean that such a licence should not be granted, such as those detailed in the Determining Licence Applications policy document

Central to the usual approach for each separate licensable dwelling to hold an individual property licence is the Council’s belief that this approach provides important clarity, certainty and benefits to all parties impacted by the administration and enforcement of the licensing regime

Under the Council’s licence fee schedule, there will be no financial disadvantage to an applicant who applies for and/or is granted, individual property licences as opposed to a single multi-dwelling licence​

More information can be found through the Council’s full policy relating to multi-dwelling licences

If you are interested in applying for a multi-dwelling licence, please register your interest, and provide details of the addresses to be licensed by sending an email to propertylicensing@walthamforest.gov.uk. An officer will contact you to discuss the circumstances of your case.

Under the national legislation and regulations there are a number of ‘full’ exemptions to the licencing scheme.

Property licensing schemes in Waltham Forest follow these national exemptions.

Full exemptions 

Exemptions from the Council’s selective licensing scheme, which operates in all wards except Hatch Lane and Endlebury, are detailed in the approved selective licensing designation.

Exemptions from the mandatory HMO licensing scheme are set out in schedule 14 of the Housing Act 2004 and associated regulations.

Exemptions from the Council’s additional licensing scheme are detailed in the approved additional licensing designation.

If you are unsure if your property is exempt, or requires a temporary exemption notice, please contact us for further information on:

Alternatively, you may wish to seek independent legal advice.

Temporary exemption notice (TEN)

You may be eligible for a three month temporary exemption in the following circumstances:

  • the property is in the process of being sold
  • the owner has given the tenants notice and the property will be sold
  • the owner of the property is moving into the property
  • the property is in the process of being converted into a commercial premise
  • if a licence holder has died the licence is terminated and a temporary exemption notice may be issued.

Apply for a temporary exemption notice (TEN)

The Council will consider TEN applications on a case by case basis and will communicate their decision to the applicant in writing.

A subsequent TEN application may be made to the Council on the expiry of a granted TEN, and the Council may grant this in exceptional circumstances.

By law, we must publish:

 

Check if a property is licensed

You can check if a property is licensed by searching the register.

If you think a rented property isn't licensed, or that it doesn't comply with the licensing conditions, please let us know by emailing propertylicensing@walthamforest.gov.uk

A comprehensive consultation exercise was carried out on private rented property licensing in Waltham Forest for 12 weeks from 4th February to the 29th April 2019. The consultation was open to all residents, tenants, landlords, agents and businesses in Waltham Forest, neighbouring boroughs and beyond. Consultees were encouraged to read the evidence pack and ward summaries before taking part in the consultation. We received over 2,400 responses and a formal response to the consultation was published on the web site.

As a result of the consultation exercise, and our own scrutiny process, we made a number of changes to the property licensing proposals in relation to the licence fee structure and the conditions to be attached to any granted property licence. The Council’s Cabinet approved both the additional and selective licensing scheme proposals on 19 July 2019.

  • The selective licensing scheme covers 18 of the borough’s 20 wards (not Hatch Lane and Endlebury) and was confirmed by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on Tuesday 21st January 2020.  See the public notice for the Designation of Selective Licensing for more information.
  • The additional licensing scheme is borough-wide and covers eligible HMOs that fall outside the scope of national HMO licensing. See the public notice for the Designation of additional licensing for more information.

Change in circumstance Click to get info

For licensed properties any change in circumstance needs to be notified to the Private Sector Housing Team by the licence holder and/or their property manager within 10 working days.

Paying a fine Click to get info

Financial Penalty under the Housing Act 2004

If you have received a Civil Penalty Notice.

Please enter your reference number, which can be found on your notice.

Will tacit consent apply? Click to get info

No. It is in the public interest that Waltham Forest Council must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within ten working days contact us using the contact details below:

Contact Click to get info