London Borough of Camden

The London Borough of Camden is in North London covering an area of 8.4 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Brent to the west, Westminster and City of London to the south, Islington to the east and Barnet and Haringey to the north. According to the 2011 Census, about 32% (1 in 3) of the housing stock was privately rented which is 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 Camden Council do not operate a selective licensing scheme. However, if you rent out a flat in a converted building, you should check the additional licensing scheme 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 a bit more complicated. Camden Council introduced an additional licensing scheme in December 2015 and there is also 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 will need an HMO licence if your property:

  • Is three or more storeys high (a storey includes a 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 mandatory HMO 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 came into force on 8 December 2015 and continues for five years, unless the Council decide to implement a replacement scheme.

It applies to all HMOs in the London Borough of Camden, so that includes all properties shared by three or more people who are not all related and share facilities – an estimated 8,000 properties. You can view the scheme designation in the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this webpage.

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
  • 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.

The Council have simplified things slightly by restricting the licensing of section 257 HMOs to situations where at least half the flats are tenanted or occupied by a resident landlord. This is a complex area of law and you may need further advice. 

How much does a licence cost?

Camden Council have standardised their fees for both the mandatory HMO and additional licensing schemes. 

There is a flat rate fee of £450 for the HMO (house of flat), plus an additional £45 for each individual unit of accommodation (e.g. bedroom, bedsit or studio flat) within it. So that would be £675 for an HMO with five separate lettings.

Slightly different fees apply for section 257 HMOs and purpose built student accommodation.

There is a £95 discount for accredited landlords, so it is worth joining a recognised accreditation scheme.

The fees were published on the Council’s website in June 2017 but could be subject to change in the future. You can view the fees in full on the Council’s website.

Can I apply for a licence online?

Yes, to coincide with the introduction of additional licensing, Camden Council has introduced an online application process.

You may first want to read the Council’s guide for landlords and managing agents which explains the process and can be downloaded from the Council’s website.

Once you are ready, you can visit the Council’s website and follow their four stage application process. It says that applications will normally take about 45 minutes to complete and they will aim to contact you within two weeks of your application to arrange an inspection of the property. Any necessary remedial or improvement work will then be added as a licence condition and the licence-holder will be given a reasonable timescale to complete the work. 

We hope they’ve got lots of officers on standby as with an expectation of 8,000 applications, that is going to create a huge volume of work.

If you are unable to use the online system, the council advise that you should contact the HMO licensing team to discuss. Their contact details are on the right of this webpage. 

You will need to submit a lot of paperwork with your application, so it’s important to make sure you have everything you need. For example, the council want to see gas and electrical certificates, emergency lighting and fire alarm test certificates (if applicable), a floor plan and a declaration that all upholstered furniture supplied by the landlord complies with fire safety regulations.

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, Camden Council has adopted HMO standards which all licensed HMOs must comply with and you can download a copy of their HMO standards here.

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 February 2015, Camden Council told us they had licensed 290 HMOs under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.

In September 2016, the council told us that the number of properties licensed under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme had dropped slightly to 284. In the meantime, 300 properties had been licensed under the new additional licensing scheme and a further 623 were being processed.

By May 2017, the council revealed that almost 2,000 properties had either been licensed or the licence applications were being processed. 

Every Council must have a public register of licensed HMOs. Camden Council have recently published the register online and you can view a copy on the Council’s website.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

While Camden Council believe they’ve tracked down most of the HMOs under the mandatory HMO scheme, the same cannot said for their additional licensing scheme that started in December 2015.

The council has estimated that between 6,000 and 8,000 HMOs will need to be licensed. Yet by May 2017, only about 2,000 applications had been received.

It seems there are thousands of rented properties in Camden that are being operated illegally without a licence.

We would strongly encourage any landlords of licensable HMOs to apply now to avoid facing the consequences. If you need assistance, we can handle the application process for you and all for a fixed fee (read here).

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 get your property licensed! (find out more

Does the Council take much housing enforcement action?

Camden Council told us they took 20 housing prosecutions over the three years from April 2011 to March 2014. They took a further six prosecutions in 2014/15 and three prosecutions in 2015/16. so an average of six housing prosecutions a year. This is well above average when compared to other London Boroughs. They really are serious when it comes to enforcement! 

The Council have obtained two Rent Repayment Orders from the landlords of unlicensed HMOs over the last five years (April 2011 to March 2016).

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 751 accredited landlords in Camden, which is the 3rd highest out of all London boroughs.

Given that Camden host the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme on behalf of all the boroughs, we would expect them to score highly!

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?

Not at the moment, as the additional licensing scheme was only recently introduced. The council consulted on the proposed additional licensing from 4 September to 28 November 2014 and information about the consultation is available here.

Following a report to Cabinet on 25 February 2015, Camden Council carried out a second phase of consultation to ensure they fully complied with the Enfield Judicial Review decision. The consultation ran from 23 February to 5 May 2015 (read here). 

On 4 June 2015, the Cabinet Member for Housing and the Deputy Leader met to consider an additional licensing scheme report. They decided to proceed with a borough wide additional licensing scheme covering all HMOs and the scheme came into force on 8 December 2015. 

Camden Council told us they have no current proposals to consider a selective licensing scheme.

Clearly, there is a lot happening in Camden 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 will also need planning permission if you a splitting up a property into smaller self-contained units of accommodation.

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

In September 2016, we checked with Camden Council and found that there is currently no HMO Article 4 Direction in force, although it is something they are thinking about.

This means that you do not need planning permission for a change of use from a single-family property (use class C3) to a small HMO shared by three to six unrelated residents (use class C4), although the situation could change in the future.

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!

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: 

Private Sector Housing Team
Camden Council
8th Floor
5 Pancras Square
Town Hall
Judd Street
London WC1H 9JE

Email: hmolicensing@camden.gov.uk
Tel: 020 7974 5969
Website: www.camden.gov.uk

Camden News

Camden Events

Camden Comment

At a Glance

Licence Overview

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

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 7974 5969
Email: hmolicensing@camden.gov.uk
Weblink: Camden HMO licensing

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