London Borough of Ealing

The London Borough of Ealing is in west London covering an area of 21 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Hillingdon to the west, Hammersmith & Fulham to the east, Harrow and Brent to the north and Hounslow to the south. According to the 2011 Census about 28% of the housing stock was privately rented which is higher than the London average of 25% (1 in 4). 

Do I need a licence to rent out my property?

There is quite a high chance you will need a licence to rent out your property in Ealing although you need to study the arrangements carefully as one of the licensing schemes only applies to part of the borough. We will try to explain.

On 1 January 2017, Ealing Council introduced a borough wide additional licensing scheme together with a selective licensing scheme that only covers part of the borough. Both schemes operate for five years until 31 December 2022.

There is also the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies across England and Wales.  So in total, there are three separate licensing schemes.

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 does not fall within the remit of the mandatory HMO licensing scheme but meets any of the following criteria:

  • All HMOs that comprise two or more storeys and are occupied by four or more people who share facilities; and
  • All HMOs in buildings containing a mixture of commercial and residential uses.

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

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

Fortunately, Ealing have restricted the licensing of section 257 HMOs to buildings where the number of flats exceeds the number of storeys in the building and where the building and all of the flats within it are either in the same ownership or considered by the council to be effectively under the same control.

We understand the restriction on the number of flats exceeding the number of storeys will not apply in mixed use developments, or above commercial premises. 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 in the Council wards of Acton Central, East Acton, South Acton, Southall Broadway and Southall Green. Selective licences are also needed for HMOs in these areas that do not fall within the mandatory HMO or additional licensing schemes.

If you rent a property to a single household in other parts of the borough, the selective licensing scheme does not apply. 

This adds another layer of complexity as most landlords won’t be familiar with the ward boundaries and neither will tenants or agents. To find out if your property is within the selective licensing area, you can use a postcode search facility on the Council’s website

In summary, if you rent out a House in Multiple Occupation in Ealing, it will need to be licensed if it meets their scheme criteria. If you rent out any other property, it will need to be licensed if it is in the Council wards of Acton Central, East Acton, South Acton, Southall Broadway and Southall Green. 

How much does a licence cost?

For mandatory HMO licensing, Ealing Council charge a standard fee of £1,100 (£1,007n in 2015/16, £994 in 2014/15) per property plus an additional £30 for each habitable room (i.e. bedroom or living room). So the fee is £1,250 for a three storey shared house with five single person lettings and no shared living room.

For selective licensing, Ealing Council charge a standard fee of £500 per property.

There was a discount of 25% for all selective and additional licence applications submitted between 1 October and 31 December 2016, but that period has now ended.

For all the schemes, there is a £75 discount if the licence holder, or designated manager belongs to one of the accreditation schemes approved under the London Rental Standard. We think this is a good idea.

The fees we have listed were correct as of January 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?

Ealing Council recently introduced a fully integrated online application system for mandatory HMO, additional and selective licence applications. You can apply by visiting the Council’s website

In addition to completing the application form, Ealing Council ask you to provide various supporting information, so make sure you have all your property information at hand.

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 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, Ealing Council has adopted HMO standards that you can view on the Council’s website. The standards apply to Houses in Multiple Occupation that are licensed under the mandatory HMO or additional licensing schemes. 

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

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?

In December 2015, Ealing Council announced they had licensed 377 HMOs under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, up from 310 in February 2015. There were a further 247 HMOs licensed under the additional licensing scheme.

Ealing Council keeps a public register of all licensed properties that is regularly updated and can be viewed on the Council’s website. When you click on the link, you will need to select ‘Licensing’ in the search box in the top left corner. We would suggest you then pick ‘Advanced’ and then select the licence type you are interested in. 

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

Well, it seems there may be quite a few. Ealing Council have told us that their 2010 house condition survey estimated there were 980 HMOs that needed a licence under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, although their July 2016 Cabinet Report raised that estimate to around 5,000 properties.

A further 15,000 applications are expected under the additional licensing scheme and 5,000 applications under the selective licensing scheme.

If you are the landlord of a licensable but unlicensed property, we would strongly recommend you apply now to avoid facing serious consequences. Just drop us a line if you need any assistance. 

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 £20,000 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?

Ealing Council told us they have taken four housing prosecutions over the three year period April 2011 to March 2014, two prosecutions in 2014/15 and three prosecutions in 2015/16, so it seems they are starting to step up their housing enforcement activity.

Ealing Council have not obtained any 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?

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 835 accredited landlords in Ealing, which is the highest out of all London boroughs. Well done Ealing landlords!

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?

In June 2015 Ealing Council told us that research was being carried out to review the additional licensing scheme and assess the feasibility of any future licensing schemes in the borough.

On 15 December 2015, a report outlining private rented sector licensing proposals was presented at the Cabinet meeting (view here - see agenda item 19). The report recommended consultation on a borough wide additional licensing scheme covering all HMOs, plus a smaller selective licensing scheme covering all private rented homes in the five council wards of Acton Central, East Acton, South Acton, Southall Broadway and Southall Green.

The public consultation exercise took place from 11 January to 3 April 2016. A report was presented at the Cabinet meeting on 12 July 2016 (read here), approving new selective and additional licensing schemes that started on 1 January 2017. 

There is clearly a lot happening in Ealing so we will continue to monitor the situation and will keep you posted. 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 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 August 2016, we checked with Ealing Council and found that there is currently no HMO Article 4 Direction in force.

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: 

Property Regulation
Ealing Council
Perceval House
14-16 Uxbridge Road
Ealing
London W5 2HL

Email: prslicensing@ealing.gov.uk
Tel:     020 8825 9512
Website: www.ealing.gov.uk

Ealing News

Ealing Events

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At a Glance

Licence Overview

Mandatory HMO licensing applies borough wide. Additional and selective licensing schemes started on 1 January 2017.

More Information

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 8825 9512
Email: prslicensing@ealing.gov.uk
Weblink: Ealing property licensing

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