London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Hammersmith & Fulham 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 Hammersmith & Fulham is in West London covering an area of 6 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Ealing and Hounslow to the west, Kensington & Chelsea to the east, Brent to the north and with the River Thames to the south. According to the 2011 Census about 33% (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?

There is quite a high chance you will need a licence to rent out your property in Hammersmith & Fulham 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 5 June 2017, Hammersmith & Fulham 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 4 June 2022.

There is also the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies across England and Wales.  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); 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.  

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. The scheme applies to all HMOs occupied by three or more people who are not all related.

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

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

This is a complex area of law and you may need further advice. You can contact us for further information and 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 in one of the designated streets.

There is not a map of the selective licensing area which makes matters more complicated. Instead, you need to check the list of 170+ streets that is published on the Council’s website

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

In summary, if you rent out a House in Multiple Occupation in Hammersmith & Fulham, it will need to be licensed. If you rent out any other property, it will need to be licensed if it is in one of the 170+ streets where selective licensing has been introduced. 

You can view the public notices for the additional and selective licensing schemes in the orange ‘More information’ box on the top right of this page.

How much does a licence cost?

It depends on the type of licence you are applying for.

Mandatory HMO Licence

Hammersmith & Fulham Council licence fees vary according to the number of habitable rooms, including a bedroom, living room, dining room and kitchen diner but not a small kitchen.

According to the Council’s website, in October 2017 it said that for an ‘average-sized property’ in Hammersmith & Fulham, a five-year licence will cost about £1,400. When we last checked in 2016, the standard HMO licence fee was £1134.39 plus £13.04 for each habitable room, so the cost seems to have increased.

Additional or Selective Licence

There is a flat fee of £540 for a five year licence.

There is a £50 discount if you sign up to the council’s landlord rental charter as part of the application process. They also offer a £75 discount if you area a member of an accredited landlord body such as the NLA, RLA or the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme.

However, it says you can only apply for one discount per property so you will save most be becoming accredited.

The fees we’ve listed were correct as of October 2017 but could be subject to change in the future. They can be viewed on the Council’s website.

How do I apply for a licence?

A new online application system has been introduced to coincide with the introduction of additional and selective licensing, and you can apply on the council’s website.

As part of the application process, you will need to provide various supporting documents such as a floor plan of the property and the gas safety certificate if there is a gas supply.

On 5 October 2017, the council told us that due to the high volume of property licensing applications received, they are pleased to advise that the deadline for submitting applications has been extended to 30 January 2018.
 
Having said that, landlords and agents are being reminded that it is illegal to operate a licensable property without submitting a complete property licence application and other sanctions could still apply, such as rent repayment orders.

If you need assistance with a 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?

Hammersmith & Fulham Council introduced new HMO standards in January 2017. The standards apply to all HMOs licensed under the mandatory HMO or additional licensing scheme.

You can view the HMO standards on the council’s website or download a copy from the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this page.

The HMO standards cover a range of issues such as kitchen, bathroom and toilet facilities, 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 – 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 March 2015, Hammersmith & Fulham Council told us they had licensed 284 HMOs. By April 2016 the number had increased to 299 and by June 2017 there had been a further increase to 310.

While the full register can be viewed at the Council Offices (you will need to make an appointment), an extract from the register can be viewed on the Council’s website. When you click on the link, you will need to scroll down to the section ‘Register of licences’.

When we last checked in October 2017, we found the register still listed some licences that expired in 2014, so we are not sure how up to date it is. 

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

In March 2015, Hammersmith & Fulham Council told us they think there are about 690 HMOs that need a licence under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.

Thousands of properties need licensing under the new additional and selective licensing schemes so it’s important to check if the licensing schemes apply to your property. 

If you are one of those landlords operating without a licence, make sure you apply 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?

Hammesmith & Fulham Council told us they had taken eight housing prosecutions over the last four years (April 2011 to March 2015), so on average two prosecutions a year.

According to data published by the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, 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)

However, in January 2012, the tenants of three properties in Waltham Yard SW6 obtained three Rent Repayment Orders from their landlord after the landlord was prosecuted for managing three licensable by unlicensed HMOs. The tenants were awarded £48,502.23!

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 344 accredited landlords in Hammersmith and Fulham, which is in the bottom third 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?

The council introduced additional and selective licensing schemes on 5 June 2017. We will have you a brief summary of how the schemes came about.

In March 2015, Hammersmith & Fulham Council told us they were considering an additional licensing scheme and that their housing strategy was out for consultation. They also told us they had no current plans to implement a selective licensing scheme, although that position has since changed.

The council’s new housing strategy ‘Delivering the change we need in housing’ was published in May 2015. Section 5.4 of the strategy (wrongly titled as 5.3) is about improving the private rented sector and said the council would:

  • Take enforcement action against rogue landlords and those who are deliberately and illegally letting unfit homes;
  • Take enforcement action against letting agents or property managers that have not signed up to a redress scheme;
  • Continue to promote landlord accreditation;
  • Investigate the advantages and disadvantages of selective and/or additional licensing schemes;
  • Consider means to prevent homes being kept empty for longer than six months;
  • Promote the right to longer-term tenancies in the private sector for those that want them and for rent increases to be kept at reasonable levels;
  • Formulate a Private Landlords’ Charter that will include reference to conditions and standards in the private rented sector; and
  • Promote improved energy efficiency in the Private Rented Sector and take steps to help those at risk from excess cold.

The council’s position on property licensing became much clearer when a report on improving private rented housing was presented to the Council’s Cabinet Meeting on 2 November 2015 (read here). See agenda item 9.

The report noted that the borough’s private rented sector had grown rapidly and now accounted for about 27,500 properties. The council say they had concerns about the condition and management of some private rented properties, which was contributing to issues of anti-social behaviour. The council therefore decided to consult on five options:

1. A borough wide additional licensing scheme;
2. A selective licensing scheme covering one fifth of the borough;
3. The development of a new Landlords Rental Charter;
4. Updating the council’s HMO standards; and
5. Setting up a social letting agency.

A formal public consultation exercise on these options took place from 7 July to 30 September 2016.

On 5 December 2016, the council’s cabinet meeting approved the introduction of additional and selective licensing, new HMO standards and a new landlord rental charter (read here) and the licensing schemes started on 5 June 2017.  

There is clearly a lot happening in Hammersmith and Fulham so we will monitor the situation closely. You can sign up to our free newsletter to find out all the latest developments.

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 April 2016, we checked with London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham who told us there is currently no HMO Article 4 Direction in force and they have no plans to consult on one in the foreseeable future. You can view 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!

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 & Health Service
Hammersmith & Fulham Council
1st Floor
Hammersmith Town Hall Extension
King Street
London
W6 9JU

Email: phs@lbhf.gov.uk
Tel:     020 8753 1221
Website: www.lbhf.gov.uk

Hammersmith & Fulham News

Hammersmith & Fulham Events

Hammersmith & Fulham Comment

At a Glance

Licence Overview

Mandatory HMO licensing applies borough wide. Additional and selective licensing schemes started on 5 June 2017

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 8753 1221
Email: phs@lbhf.gov.uk
Weblink: Hammersmith & Fulham HMO licensing

Hammersmith & Fulham Licensing Scheme
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