London Borough of Barnet

The London Borough of Barnet is in North London covering an area of 33 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Harrow and Brent to the west, Camden to the south and Haringey and Enfield to the east. According to the 2011 Census, about 26% of the housing stock was privately rented which is marginally above the London average of 25% (1 in 4).

Do I need a licence to rent out my property?

You do not need a licence if you rent your property to a single family as Barnet Council do not operate a selective licensing scheme. However, if you rent out a flat in a converted building, you should also check the additional licensing schemes below as some buildings containing flats do need to be licensed.

If you rent your property as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), the answer is more complicated. Barnet Council started an additional licensing scheme on 5 July 2016, plus there is the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies throughout England and Wales.

To help you decide if you need a licence we’ve outlined the two HMO licensing schemes below:

1. Mandatory HMO licensing

You need an HMO licence if your property:

  • Is three of more storeys high (a storey includes basement, loft conversion and any storey comprising business premises); and
  • 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 licensing

The additional licensing scheme started on 5 July 2016 and will continue until 4 July 2021, unless the Council chose to implement a replacement scheme.

While the scheme applies borough wide, the licensing criteria are quite complicated and so we have published them in full below. The scheme applies to the following HMOs:

  • Any HMO of two or more storeys, occupied by four or more persons in two or more households and where some or all facilities are shared or missing.
  • Any flat occupied by four or more persons in two or more households and where some or all facilities are shared or missing, where the flat is on the second storey or higher.
  • Any HMO of two or more storeys, with a resident owner and occupied by four or more other persons in two or more households and where some or all facilities are shared or missing.
  • Any house of two or more storeys comprised of both self-contained and non­ self-contained units of accommodation occupied in aggregate by four or more persons in two or more households (not including a resident owner), some of whom share or lack one or more basic amenities such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities.

The Council have also included ‘section 257 HMOs: certain converted blocks of flats’ in the 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.

Rather than including all section 257 HMOs, the council have only included ones that comprise three or more storeys and have been converted into and consist of four or more self-contained flats and where both the building and self-contained flats it contains are owned by the same person (none of the individual flats within the building being under separate ownership).

This is one of the more complicated set of licensing criteria we have seen! You might need to read this section several times and study the scheme designation in the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this webpage, to make sure you understand what it means.

How much does a licence cost?

In April 2016, Barnet Council increased their HMO licensing fees. They now charge a standard fee of £1,008 (was £989 in 2015/16 and £985 in 2014/15) for a property with up to five units of accommodation, plus an extra £24 for each unit of accommodation above five.

Barnet Council have recently introduced a 10% discount for accredited landlords, which we think is a good idea. 

The fees we’ve listed are correct as of June 2017 but could be subject to change in the future. You can view the fees in full on the Council’s website. Once you click on the link, you will need to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the information.

Can I apply for a licence online?

No you can’t, it’s a bit old fashioned! Instead, you can download the application form from the Council's website, print it out and complete by hand. Once you click on the link, you will need to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the form.

Alternatively, you can contact Barnet Council and ask them to send you an application pack in the post.

Once you’ve completed the application, you have to send it back to Barnet Council together with various supporting documents including a floor plan, gas safety certificate, fire alarm and emergency lighting test certificates and the electrical certificate. So make sure you have got all your paperwork ready.

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 and all for a fixed fee. To find out more, 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, Barnet Council has adopted HMO standards which all licensed HMOs must comply with. The standards were updated in 2016 and the council have also published a separate guide to fire safety in HMOs. You can download copies from the Council's website. Once you have clicked on the link, you will need to scroll down to the bottom of the page.

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

It is important for us to point out that the government are looking to introduce new minimum bedroom sizes for HMOs – 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?

In January 2015, Barnet Council told us they had licensed 145 HMOs and by February 2016 that number had risen to 183. When we checked in June 2017 there were 436 licensed HMOs in the public register – 261 under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme and 175 under the additional licensing scheme.

Every Council must have a public register of licensed HMOs that is regulatory updated. In the last few months, Barnet have put their public register online. It is nice and simple to use and you can view it yourself on the Council’s website.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

Barnet Council think there are 5,931 HMOs within the borough and that 3,836 of them will need to be licensed under the mandatory HMO and additional licensing schemes.

As of June 2017, this indicates the council have only licensed about 11% of the expected number of HMOs almost 12 months after the additional licensing scheme started. They clearly have plenty of work to keep them busy over the next couple of years!

If you are the landlord of a licensable HMO, you should apply now to avoid facing the consequences.

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 and if found guilty you could get a criminal record, be fined an unlimited amount and ordered to pay court costs and a victim surcharge.

From April 2017 the council can issue you with a civil penalty notice of up to £30,000 for not having the correct licence without any warning being given, 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. Make sure you comply with the law. We can help you get your property licensed! (find out more

Does the Council take much housing enforcement action?

Barnet Council have taken eight housing prosecutions over the last five years (April 2011 to March 2016), so an average of just over one prosecution a year. 

The Council did not obtain any Rent Repayment Orders from the landlords of unlicensed HMOs over the four years from April 2011 to March 2015, but one was obtained in 2015/16. The landlord of a property in Golders Green was ordered to repay £15,778.56 to their tenants. That’s a considerable sum and shows the importance of getting your property licensed at the earliest opportunity!

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 580 accredited landlords in Barnet, which is above average when compared to all the 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?

A new additional licensing scheme started on 5 July 2016. The scheme development is outlined below.

On 2 February 2015, Barnet Council’s Housing Committee decided to consult on a borough wide additional licensing scheme covering about 5,000 HMOs.

The council said that their private sector housing and public health teams had been investigating whether there was sufficient data to support the adoption of an additional licensing scheme. Through these investigations, the council believed that there was evidence to indicate that a significant proportion of HMO’s in Barnet were being managed inadequately and the housing conditions could be improved.

The proposal was subject to public consultation from 25 June to 23 October 2015. 

On 1 February 2016, a report was presented to the council’s Housing Committee proposing the introduction of an additional licensing scheme (read here - see agenda item 7). The report was unanimously supported and the new licensing scheme came into force on 5 July 2016.

Barnet Council have told us they have no plans to consult on a selective licensing scheme. 

There is clearly a lot happening in Barnet so we will monitor the situation closely and keep you posted.

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. You also need planning permission if you a splitting up a property into smaller self-contained units of accommodation. 

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 28 May 2015, Barnet Council made a borough-wide Article 4 Direction that removes the permitted development rights to change a property from use class C3 to use class C4 without planning permission. You can download a copy of the Article 4 Direction from the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this page.

Barnet Council consulted on the Article 4 Direction from 28 May to 30 August 2015 (read here). The Article 4 Direction came into force on 29 May 2016 after being confirmed at Barnet Council’s Planning Committee meeting on 23 May (read here – see agenda item 11).

The effect of the Article 4 Direction is to require planning permission to change the use from a single-family property (C3) to an HMO with up to six occupants (class C4). So even letting your property to three people who are not all related could require planning permission. More information is available on the council’s website

We have prepared some general advice on HMO Article 4 Directions that you may find useful, available here

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. 

How do I find out more?

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

Private Sector Housing Team
Barnet Council
Barnet House
1255 High Road,
Whetstone
London N20 0EJ

Email:  hmos@barnet.gov.uk
Tel:       020 8359 5355
Website: www.barnet.gov.uk

Barnet News

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At a Glance

Licence Overview

No selective licensing in Barnet but the mandatory HMO and additional licensing schemes apply borough wide.

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 8359 5355
Email: hmos@barnet.gov.uk
Weblink: Barnet HMO licensing

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