London Borough of Hackney

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Hackney 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 Hackney is in North London covering an area of 7 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Islington to the west, the City of London and Tower Hamlets to the south, Newham and Waltham Forest to the east and Haringey to the north. According to the 2011 Census about 29% 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?

You do not need a licence if you rent your property to a single family as Hackney 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 Hackney 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 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 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?

Hackney Council HMO licence fees vary according to the number of occupants, whether the landlord is a member of the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme and various other factors.

The standard fee is £150 per household (was £146 in 2014/15), so that would be £750 for a three storey shared house with five single person lettings. The fee drops to £125 per household for accredited landlords.

If you do not come forward to apply for a licence and the council discover your property, the council will charge an additional fee of £200 for the property.

The fees we have listed are correct as of October 2017 and could be subject to change in the future. The fees can be viewed in full on the Council’s website

Can I apply for a licence online?

No you can’t, it’s a bit old fashioned! Instead, you can download the application form, complete it by hand and post it back to the Council. The form and accompanying guidance notes can be downloaded from the Council’s website

You also need to submit supporting documents such as a floor plan of your property, gas and electrical certificates, and fire alarm and emergency lighting certificates.   

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, Hackney Council’s HMO standards can be downloaded from the Council’s website.

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 March 2015, Hackney Council told us they had licensed 179 HMOs. We checked again in February 2016 and found they had licensed 189 properties; the same figure was shown in December 2016, so just a slight increase in the last 18 months.

Hackney Council keeps a public register of licensed HMOs that can be viewed on the Council’s website. When you click on the link, you need to scroll down to the bottom of the page to the ‘Public register of HMO licences’ section.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

Possibly. In March 2015, Hackney Council told us there could be about 450 licensable HMOs in the borough according to their house condition survey from 2009. This suggests there could be 200 or more licensable HMOs still operating without a licence.

If you are the landlord of a licensable but unlicensed HMO, you should act now to avoid 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 get your property licensed! (find out more

Does the Council take much housing enforcement action?

Hackney Council told us they had taken six housing prosecutions over the last three years (April 2011 to March 2014), so on average two housing prosecutions a year.

Hackney Council have not obtained any Rent Repayment Orders from the landlords of unlicensed HMOs over the last five years (April 2011 to March 2016) 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 592 accredited landlords in Hackney, which is above average when compared to all the 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, Hackney Council carried out a preliminary consultation about the private rented sector from 26 January to 3 March 2015. The council said they were considering whether to introduce an additional or selective licensing scheme although there weren’t any firm proposals at that stage.

On 24 March 2015 there was a report that provides the Executive’s response to the Living in Hackney Scrutiny Commission review (read here). The report confirmed that the council were still exploring the possibility of a new licensing scheme, although it acknowledged there would need to be a full public consultation prior to any decision being made.

In August 2015, Hackney Council published the results from their preliminary consultation exercise (view here). The report suggested that the council explores the scope for an additional HMO licensing scheme and also possibly a HMO Article 4 Direction to restrict new HMOs. The study found no strong link between the private rented sector and problems of anti-social behaviour.

On 18 September 2017, the council launched a consultation on plans for an additional licensing scheme for all HMOs and a selective licensing scheme for all privately rented properties, in Brownswood, Cazenove and Stoke Newington wards. The consultation is open until 3 December 2017 and you can find out more information on the council’s website.

There is clearly a lot happening at Hackney so we will monitor the situation and keep you posted. For all the latest news, sign up to our free newsletter.

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?

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

Private Sector Housing Team
Hackney Council
Room 8
Stoke Newington Municipal Offices
Stoke Newington Church Street
London
N16 0JR

Email: privatesectorhousing@hackney.gov.uk
Tel:     020 8356 4866
Website: www.hackney.gov.uk

Hackney News

Hackney Events

Hackney Comment

At a Glance

Licence Overview

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

More Information

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 8356 4866
Email: privatesectorhousing@hackney.gov.uk
Weblink: Hackney HMO licensing

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