London Borough of Croydon

The London Borough of Croydon is in South London covering an area of 34 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Sutton and Merton to the west, Lambeth and Southwark to the north, Bromley to the east and with Surrey to the south. According to the 2011 Census, about 21% (1 in 5) of the housing stock was privately rented which is lower than the London average of 25% (1 in 4).

Do I need a licence to rent out my property?

Yes, almost all private rented properties in Croydon need to be licensed. There are very few exemptions.

You will need a licence if you rent your property to a single family or individual as Croydon Council have implemented a selective licensing scheme that came into force on 1 October 2015 and lasts for five years until 30 September 2020. There are very few exemptions.

If you rent your property as a House in Multiple Occupation, the answer is slightly more complicated. Whilst Croydon Council’s additional licensing schemes have ended, some HMOs will need a licence under the selective licensing scheme and some are covered under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies across England and Wales. 

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); 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. Selective Licence

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

Selective licences are also needed for most HMOs and this is where is gets more complicated. Croydon Council says that selective licensing applies to all HMOs not already covered by the mandatory HMO licensing scheme. They may be right and the easiest thing is to apply for a licence to make sure you are covered.

But there is also another legal interpretation that suggests some HMOs may be exempt. It’s a bit longwinded so unless you are really interested you may want to skip this part!

Under section 79(2)(b) of the Housing Act 2004, selective licensing only applies to a property if the whole of it is occupied either:

(i) under a single tenancy or licence; or 
(ii) under two or more tenancies or licences in respect of different dwellings contained within it.

So under section 79(2)(b)(i), if your property is let on one tenancy to people not all related to each other (e.g. a house share), it is a House in Multiple Occupation that will need to be licensed under the selective licensing scheme.

The meaning of section 79(2)(b)(ii) is more difficult to follow. If your property is let on two or more tenancies or licences, it will need a selective licence if each one relates to a different dwelling contained within it. But what is the definition of a dwelling? Well, it certainly includes self-contained accommodation but does it include a room with shared facilities? The simplest option is to apply for a selective licence for all HMOs that fall outside the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, or seek independent legal advice on your options.

Ultimately, only the Courts can interpret the law and unless this issue is ever tested in court, we may never know for sure. If you want to share your thoughts on this we would love to hear from you via our contact form.

3. Additional licence 

Whilst Croydon’s additional licensing schemes have ended, we felt this is still worth a mention as some landlords may still have licences issued under the old schemes, and those licences will remain in force until the expiry date on the licence. 

The 2010 Designation

This additional licensing scheme ran for five years from 24 August 2010 until 23 August 2015. It applied to all properties that were let out as HMOs and were not already covered by the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.

It applied in the council wards of Addiscombe, Ashburton, Bensham Manor, Broad Green, Coulston East, Coulston West, Croham, Fairfield, Heathfield, Kenley, Norbury, Purley, Sanderstead, Selhurst, South Norwood, Thornton Heath, Upper Norwood, Waddon, West Thornton and Woodside wards. In practice it covered most of the borough.

The 2014 Designation

On 1 August 2014, Croydon Council introduced another additional licensing scheme covering all HMOs in the borough. The scheme designation said it was due to run until 30 June 2019 although the council have told us the document was wrong. They say that the scheme was only ever intended to extend the existing additional licensing scheme borough wide for the remainder of the original licensing period i.e. until 23 August 2015. So it only lasted for just over a year.

Remember that if you do manage an HMO, it may still need a licence under the mandatory HMO or selective licensing scheme, even though the additional licensing schemes have ended. 

How much does a licence cost?

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

Mandatory HMO licensing

For a mandatory HMO licence, a new fee structure was introduced on 1 April 2017.

The council charges a flat fee of £250 per room up to a maximum of £5,000. It says if there is separate lounge, you must also count that as a room when working out the fee. From our experience, that is quite unusual and it may discourage landlords from providing a communal living room.

Whilst there was a 25% discount for accredited landlords, Croydon Council told us in May 2017 that the discount had been withdrawn, which we think is a shame.

Selective licensing

For a selective licence, there is a flat rate fee of £750 per property.

This information was correct as of July 2017 but could be subject to change in the future. 

You can view the mandatory HMO licensing fees here and the selective licensing fees here

Can I apply for a licence online?

Yes, Croydon Council offer an online application and payment system for mandatory HMO licensing. You can apply by visiting the Council's website and then following the 'Apply for it' link on the right of the web-page.

Once you’ve completed the application form, they also ask you to scan and upload various supporting documents so make sure you’ve got all your property information at hand.

If you prefer, you can contact Croydon Council and they will send you a HMO licence application pack in the post.

A similar online application process has been introduced for the selective licensing scheme. You can apply by visiting the Council's website and then following the 'Apply for it' link on the right of the web-page.

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, please drop us a line and we will send you further details, or you can study the information published here.  

For licensing single family (non-HMO) properties we advise you to contact our colleagues at McDowalls Surveyors Limited who specialise in that type of licensing. You can visit their website here

Are there any standards I need to comply with?

Yes, Croydon Council have published a whole suite of HMO standards covering different types of HMOs. They can be downloaded from the Council's website. You will need to scroll down to the bottom of their web-page to find them.

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, Croydon Council had licensed 259 HMOs under the mandatory licensing scheme and 289 HMOs under the additional licensing scheme, so 548 in total.

In November 2015, Croydon Council said they had received over 24,500 selective licence applications.

When we checked again in May 2017, the council told us they had approved 339 mandatory HMO licences and 21,536 selective licences. The council said they were still processing a further 5 mandatory HMO and 7,900 selective licensing applications. To date, the council told us that 2 mandatory HMO licence and 12 selective licence applications have been refused.

The Council keeps a public register of licensed properties that is regularly updated and can now be viewed online – you can search by postcode for licensed properties in your area on the council’s website.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

In February 2015, Croydon Council told us they think there are about 352 properties licensable under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.

The council were expecting to license around 30,000 properties under their new selective licensing scheme, so it seems like most landlords have submitted a licence application although there could still be some unlicensed properties out there.

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?

Croydon Council told us they too seven housing prosecutions over the three years from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2014.

They took a further one housing prosecution in 2014/15 but none in 2015/16 and 2016/17. Over the last six years, the council have taken an average of just over one housing prosecutions a year.

The Council have obtained two Rent Repayment Order from the landlords of unlicensed HMOs over the last six years (April 2011 to March 2017). One landlord was required to repay £12,369.02 to the Council whilst another was required to repay £6,299.38. 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 345 accredited landlords in Croydon, which places them in the bottom third when compared to 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?

Croydon Council has already introduced a borough wide selective licensing scheme that has extend licensing to almost every private rented property in the borough. The scheme came into force on 1 October 2015.

There was a public consultation exercise from 23 December 2014 to 2 March 2015 and the Council sought views on four proposals:

  • Option 1: Implement a full scheme
  • Option 2: Implement a partial scheme
  • Option 3: Implement the London Rental Standard
  • Option 4: Do nothing

On 16 March 2015, a report was approved at the Cabinet meeting (click on the link and scroll down to item 8) to implement borough wide selective licensing from 1 October 2015.

The decision to implement borough wide selective licensing was then subject to legal challenge, although the council’s decision was upheld by the High Court in August 2015 (read here).  

There’s a lot happening in Croydon so we will continue to monitor the situation 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 May 2016, we checked with Croydon Council and found that there is currently no HMO Article 4 Direction in force, and no immediate plans to introduce one. You can find more information about Article 4 Directions on the Council’s website.

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: 

Housing Standards & Enforcement Team
Croydon Council
3rd Floor Zone D
Bernard Weatherill House
8 Mint Walk
Croydon CR0 1EA

Email: propertylicensing@croydon.gov.uk
Tel:     020 8726 6103
Website: www.croydon.gov.uk

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At a Glance

Licence Overview

Mandatory HMO and selective licensing applies borough wide. There is no additional licensing scheme.

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 8726 6103
Email: propertylicensing@croydon.gov.uk
Weblink: Croydon Property Licensing

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