London Borough of Newham

The London Borough of Newham is in East London covering an area of 14 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets to the west, Barking & Dagenham to the east, Redbridge and Waltham Forest to the north and with the River Thames to the south. According to the 2011 Census about 34% (1 in 3) of the housing stock was privately rented which is significantly higher than the London average of 25% (1 in 4). 

Do I need a licence to rent out my property?

Yes, you will almost certainly need a licence to rent out your property in Newham as the Council has introduced borough wide mandatory HMO licensing, additional licensing and selective licensing schemes. There are very few exemptions.

The borough wide additional and selective licensing came came into force on 1 January 2013. Both schemes operate for five years until 31 December 2017, although the council has recently consulted on renewing the schemes for a further five years. You can view the formal scheme designations on the Council’s website.

If you think you may need a licence, you now need to decide which one. We will try to help you choose the right licence for your property.

1. Mandatory HMO licence

You will need a mandatory HMO licence if your property:

  • Is three or more storeys high (a storey includes a basement, loft conversion and any storey comprising business premises);
  • Contains five or more people in two or more households; and
  • Contains shared facilities such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.  

Following a recent government announcement, the mandatory HMO licensing criteria look set to change in 2017 bringing thousands more properties within the scope of licensing. It is important to keep up to date as these changes could impact on you. You can sign up to our free newsletter for all the latest news.   

2. Additional licence

You will need an additional licence if your property is let as a House in Multiple Occupation that is not already covered by the mandatory HMO licensing scheme. So licensing applies to all HMOs in Newham.

The House in Multiple Occupation definition is not straightforward and you will need to study it carefully. For example, Newham Council have included ‘section 257 HMOs’ within the remit of the licensing scheme. These are properties that:

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

So a building containing both owner-occupied and rented flats may need one licence for the whole building. This is a complex area of law and you may need further advice.

3. Selective Licensing

You will need a selective licence if your property (house or flat) is let out to a single person, couple or single household and is located anywhere in the borough.

Once you have obtained a selective licence, you cannot let the property out as an HMO as that requires a different type of licence.

In summary, if you let out private rented accommodation in Newham, you will need to get a licence for each property you rent out, unless it falls into one of the very few statutory exemptions. You can find a lot of useful information on the Council’s website.

How much does a licence cost?

In Newham, it depends on the type of licence you are applying for.

Under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, fees start at £1,050 (£950 in 2014/15) for properties containing up to five lettings, up to a maximum of £1,650 if there are 20 or more lettings. 

Under the additional licensing scheme, there is a standard licence fee of £850 (£500 in 2014/15) for each licence application, reduced to £150 if it is a newly built property that is being occupied for the first time. 

Under the selective licensing schemes, there is a standard licence fee of £500 for each licence application, reduced to £150 if it is a newly-built property that is being occupied for the first time.

If you want to submit a paper application the cost increases by £100.

There are no discounts listed for accredited landlords, which we think is a shame.

These fees are correct as of January 2017 and may be subject to change. The fees are published online on the Council’s website

Can I apply for a licence online?

Yes, Newham Council offer a full online application and payment system that can be accessed on the Council’s website. You will need to make sure you apply for the correct type of licence for your property, as there is a separate application process for each scheme.

If you need assistance with your licence application, we can help you. We offer a unique hassle-free, one-stop-shop service to handle your licence application from start to finish. The service, developed in partnership with Newham-based McDowalls Surveyors Ltd, means you and your property will be in very safe hands, and all for a fixed fee. To find out more, please drop us a line and we will send you further details, or you can study the information published here.  

Are there any standards I need to comply with?

Yes, Newham Council have adopted standards for licensed HMOs, published in Appendix 2 of their licensing guide, available on the Council’s website. Once you clink on the link, you can download the guide from the ‘Related documents’ box on the right of the Newham web-page.

The standards cover a range of issues such as kitchen, bathroom and toilet facilities, fire precautions, heating, lighting and ventilation.

These standards only apply to HMOs licenced under the mandatory HMO and additional licensing schemes. They don’t apply to single family properties licensed under the selective licensing scheme.

It is important for us to point out that the government are looking to introduce new minimum bedroom sizes for HMOs in 2017 – 6.52m2 for one person and 10.23m2 for two people. The local council will still be able to ask for larger minimum sizes. The standards will apply throughout England to HMOs licensed under a mandatory HMO or additional licensing scheme. If you are concerned about how this will impact on your properties, please contact us for advice. 

How many properties has the Council licensed?

Newham Council has licensed far more properties than any other London Borough. In February 2015, they told us they had licensed 32,511 properties:

  • 344 mandatory HMO licences;
  • 2,710 additional licences; and
  • 29,457 selective licences.

By December 2016, Newham Council said they had issued 38,941 licences to 25,163 licence holders, although we don’t have a breakdown of licences issued under each scheme.

Newham Council keeps a public register of all licensed properties which is regularly updated and can be viewed online

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

Having licensed over 38,000 properties, it seems that Newham Council have now dealt with most rented properties that require licensing in the borough.

Having said that, they operate a robust enforcement policy and so if your property is unlicensed or has the wrong type of licence for the current occupancy arrangements, it is important to get this sorted out before council officers coming knocking on your door. For expert advice and assistance, please contact us

What happens if I don't get a licence?

Ignore the law and you could pay a heavy price. You risk being prosecuted by the Council in the Magistrates Court. If found guilty, you would get a criminal record and could be fined by the Court and ordered to pay court costs and victim surcharge. The maximum fine was £20,00 but in March 2015 the law changed and you can now be fined an unlimited amount, so this is really serious stuff.  

You could also be subject to a Rent Repayment Order and may have to repay up to 12 months rental income.

Whilst the property is unlicensed, you can’t use a Notice of Seeking Possession under Section 21 Housing Act 1988 to evict your tenants. 
  
And following a successful prosecution, you would probably fail a fit and proper person assessment, making it very difficult for you to obtain a property licence in the future.

Don’t put your livelihood and reputation at risk. Make sure you comply with the law.

Does the Council take much housing enforcement action?

Yes, Newham Council have devoted significant resources to their housing enforcement action. They told us they had taken 359 housing prosecutions over the last three years (April 2011 to March 2014), which is by far the highest number when compared to all other London Boroughs.

In fact, Newham Council have carried out far more housing prosecutions over this period that all the other 32 London Councils put together! Newham take housing enforcement very seriously and conduct regular enforcement operations to tackle unsafe, substandard and unlicensed properties.  

The Council obtained eight Rent Repayment Orders (RROs) from the landlords of unlicensed properties over the four year period from April 2011 to March 2015. A further eighteen RROs were obtained in 2015/16, which is far more than any London Borough. This is based on data published by the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary and information provided by the council. 

How many accredited landlords are there?

Under the London Rental Standard, there are three approved landlord accreditation schemes operated by the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme, the National Landlords Association (NLA) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

Whilst we don’t have any figures for the NLA or RLA schemes, we have got information about the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme that is supported by all the London Boroughs. In January 2016, they told us there were 598 accredited landlords in Newham, which is the 11th highest out of all London boroughs.

If you have not yet done so, please visit our London Rental Standard page and decide which scheme you want to join. Accredited landlords are entitled to various benefits, including discounted licensing fees in some boroughs.

Is the Council planning to introduce any new licensing schemes?

Newham Council has already introduced borough wide additional and selective licensing.

From 24 October 2016 to 23 January 2017, Newham Council consulted on plans to renew the selective and additional licensing schemes for a further five years. The council consulted on two options:

Option 1 - Implement a borough-wide scheme
This option proposes to implement a borough-wide additional licensing scheme (covering houses in multiple occupation) and selective licensing scheme (covering properties with one family or household). This means all private sector landlords will need a licence and have to meet the necessary criteria in order to hold a licence.

Option 2 – Implement a borough-wide scheme that excludes E20
This option proposes to implement a borough-wide additional licensing scheme (covering houses in multiple occupation) and selective licensing scheme (properties with one family or household) across the whole borough apart from the East Village (E20 postcode area) in Stratford.

A lot more information about the proposals and the supporting evidence base is available on the council’s website at www.newham.gov.uk/licensingconsultation.

The council are now analysing the results and more information will be available later in the year. There is always a lot going on in Newham and you can keep up to date by signing up for our free newsletter

Do I need planning permission for my HMO?

You will need planning permission if you are changing your property from a single-family property to a house in multiple occupation (HMO) occupied by more than six people. HMOs occupied by more than six people fall within ‘sui-generis’ use for which planning permission is required.

For smaller HMOs, the rules are more complicated. HMOs occupied by up to six people fall into planning use class C4 whereas single-family properties fall into planning use class C3.

On 31 July 2012, Newham Council made an Article 4 Direction that removes the permitted development rights to change a property from a single-family house (use class C3) to an HMO occupied by up to six people (use class C4) without planning permission.

The Article 4 Direction applies borough-wide and came into force on 31 July 2013. So from that date, even letting your property to three people who are not all related could require planning permission.

You can download a copy of the Article 4 Direction from the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this page.
 
We also have some more general advice on HMO Article 4 Directions here.

To find out more information from Newham Council, you can visit the planning page on the Council’s website. Alternatively, you can contact the Council’s duty planning officer Monday to Friday 9am to 12 noon on Tel 020 3373 8300, or email: ENV-dutyofficer@newham.gov.uk.

Remember that this is only intended as general advice and no liability can be accepted for any reliance upon information provided. We would strongly encourage you to contact the Council’s Planning Department or seek independent legal advice. 

Can you help me find the goods and services I need?

We certainly can. We understand the challenges of being a private landlord and so we have developed a Landlord Suppliers Directory to provide you with access to the goods and services you need. The Directory concentrates on businesses that operate in the London area.

Whether you a looking for a letting agent, want a property inventory for a new tenancy, need a legionella or fire risk assessment, or are seeking a Gas Safe registered contractor to service the boiler, we’ve got it covered – and far more besides!

New suppliers are regularly being added and we would encourage you to take a look. Some of our featured listings also contain YouTube videos, helping you to find out more about the business. 

How do I find out more?

To find out more, you can contact the Council at: 

Property Licensing Team
Newham Council
Newham Dockside
1000 Dockside Road
London
E16 2QU

Email: propertylicensing@newham.gov.uk
Tel:     020 3373 1950
Website: www.newham.gov.uk

Newham News

Newham Events

Newham Comment

At a Glance

Licence Overview

Additional, selective and mandatory HMO licensing schemes all apply borough wide.

A property licensing consultation took place from 24 October 2016 to 23 January 2017.

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 3373 1950
Email: propertylicensing@newham.gov.uk
Weblink: Newham property licensing

Sign up to our London Property Licensing newsletter
Total Landlord Insurance Advert
Mcdowalls property licencing service