London Borough of Bexley

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Bexley you have come to the right place! We are experts in housing regulation and have produced this free guide to help you understand the council’s property licensing schemes.

If you find that you need a licence for your rented property our support doesn’t end there. We can handle the licence application process and give you expert advice and guidance along the way (read here). Once you have read through our guide, if you do need any assistance you can contact us here.  

We also have a Landlord Suppliers Directory (here) to help you find the goods and services you need in the London area, with new suppliers regularly added. 

To help set the scene, the London Borough of Bexley is in South East London covering an area of 23 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Greenwich to the west, Bromley to the south, with Kent to the east and the River Thames to the north. According to the 2011 Census about 11% (1 in 10) of the housing stock was privately rented which is a lot lower than 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 Bexley Council do not operate a selective licensing scheme.

If you rent your property as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), the answer is a bit more complicated. Whilst Bexley Council do not operate an additional licensing scheme, some HMOs do need a licence under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies throughout England and Wales.

You will 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 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.   

How much does a licence cost?

Bexley Council charge a HMO licence fee of £200 per unit of accommodation, so a HMO with five bedrooms let to unrelated people would be £1,000.

The fees have gone up quite a lot. In 2015/16, the HMO licence fee was £400 for properties containing up to five units of accommodation with an extra charge of £25 for each additional unit (up to a maximum of £1,400).

Previously, if the same landlord applied to license additional properties, there was a reduced fee of £300 per property for the subsequent applications. We are unsure if any such discount still applies.

If you need help drawing up floor plans to accompany your application, Bexley Council previously told us that they offer this service for an extra £200.

The council does not advertise any fee discounts for accredited landlords, which we think is a shame.

The fees we have listed are correct as of January 2017, although they could be subject to change in the future. The fees have disappeared from the Council’s website although hopefully they will be back soon!

How do I apply for a licence?

The application process is a bit old fashioned. You can download the application form and guidance notes from the Council’s website, print it out and complete it by hand.

Alternatively, you can contact Bexley Council and ask them to send you an application pack in the post. It will cut down on your printing costs, as the form is 25 pages long.

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. As part of the service, we carry out an inspection of your property, arrange a measured floorplan and provide expert advice on compliance. 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, Bexley Council has adopted HMO standards which all licensed HMOs must comply with.

To make your live easier, Bexley Council have given us a copy that you can download from this website – just click on the link in the orange ‘More Information’ box on the right hand side of this page, or you can visit the council’s website

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?

As of January 2016, Bexley Council told us they had licensed 22 HMOs, an increase of four over the previous 12 months.

We checked again in January 2017 and found there were 25 licensed HMOs listed on the council’s website, an increase of three over the last year. 

Bexley Council keeps a public register of all licensed HMOs that is regularly updated. Unfortunately, when we last checked in October 2017 the register had disappeared from the council’s website, so you may need to contact the council if you want to view the register.  

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

In January 2016, Bexley Council told us that they think there could be about 200 licensable HMOs in the borough, and so it seems they have only found and licensed about 10% of the properties so far.

Any landlords of licensable HMOs 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. We can help you! (find out more). 

Does the Council take much housing enforcement action?

Bexley Council told us they have not taken any housing prosecutions over the last five years (April 2011 to March 2016), which puts them at the bottom of the housing prosecution league table when compared to other London Boroughs.

The Council have not obtained any Rent Repayment Orders from the landlords of unlicensed HMOs over the last five years (April 2011 to March 2016). This is based on data published by the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary. 

How many accredited landlords are there?

There are 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 294 accredited landlords in Bexley, which is the 4th lowest out of all London boroughs.

In addition to training and development, accredited landlords are entitled to various benefits, including discounted licensing fees in some boroughs. If you are not already a member, we would encourage you to think about joining! 

Is the Council planning to introduce any new licensing schemes?

Yes, from 24 October 2016 to 24 January 2017, Bexley Council consulted on plans to introduce borough wide additional licensing for all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and selective licensing for all other rented accommodation in the DA8 and SE28 (Erith and Thamesmead) areas.

After reflecting on the feedback, the council have fine-tuned their proposals and are consulting again from 20 November 2017 to 31 January 2018. The latest proposal is for borough wide additional licensing, plus selective licensing in four areas: Thamesmead North, Abbey Wood / Lower Belvedere, Erith and Manor Road. You can find out more and take part in the consultation at www.bexley.gov.uk/rentitright

There is clearly a lot happening in Bexley so we will monitor the situation closely. For all the latest news, you can sign up to 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. You will also need planning permission if you a splitting up a property into smaller self-contained units of accommodation. 

For smaller HMOs, the rules are a bit more complicated. HMOs occupied by between three and six people fall into planning use class C4 whereas single-family properties fall into planning use class C3.

On 16 September 2016, Bexley Council made a non-immediate HMO 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.

Bexley Council consulted on the HMO Article 4 Direction from 23 September to 4 November 2016.

The Article 4 Direction applies borough-wide and came into force on 24 September 2017. 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.

You can find out more information on the council’s website. When you click on the link, scroll down the page and click on ‘Article 4 Directions’. 

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 before you start a new HMO development. 

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!

As the leading experts in property licensing, we also offer a range of services ourselves. From handling the licence application process to advice on new HMO developments, we can help to ensure your property business remains compliant. If you need assistance, please drop us a line and see if we can help! 

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?

You can contact the council at: 

Private Sector Team
Bexley Council
Civic Offices
2 Watling Street
Bexleyheath
Kent DA6 7AT

Email:  landlords@bexley.gov.uk
Tel:       020 8303 7777
Website: www.bexley.gov.uk

Bexley News

Bexley Events

Bexley Comment

At a Glance

Licence Overview

No additional or selective licensing in Bexley but the mandatory HMO licensing scheme applies borough wide.

Bexley Council are consulting on proposals for additional and selective licensing from 20 November 2017 to 31 January 2018.

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 8303 7777
Email: landlords@bexley.gov.uk
Weblink: Bexley HMO licensing

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