London Borough of Islington

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Islington 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 Islington is in North London covering an area of 6 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Camden to the west, Haringey to the north, Hackney to the east and the City of London to the south. According to the 2011 Census, about 27% of the housing stock was privately rented which is slightly 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 Islington 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 out your property as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) the answer is a bit more complicated. Islington Council have an additional licensing scheme that started on 1 September 2015, plus 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 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 licensing 

The additional licensing scheme started on 1 September 2015 and runs for five years until 31 August 2020, unless the Council chose to implement a replacement scheme.

It applies to all HMOs in Caledonian Road and Holloway Road i.e. houses or flats occupied by three or more people who are not all members of the same household or family.

The Council have also included ‘section 257 HMOs’ in the scheme. These are properties that:

  • have been converted into self-contained flats; and
  • less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied; and
  • 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 on whether your property is a 'section 257 HMO'. You can view a copy of the scheme designation in the ‘More Information’ box of the right hand side of this page. 

The council have said that late or incomplete applications that indicate poor property management practices will, at best, only secure a one-year licence and could result in prosecution.  It is important that you act now if this scheme applies to you. For expert advice and assistance, including help with applying for a licence, please see details of our licence application handling service (read here).

How much does a licence cost?

Islington Council charges a standard HMO licence fee of £270 per letting (£260 in 2015/16), so that would be £1,350 for a three storey shared house with five single person lettings.

The fee for a ‘section 257 HMO’ under the additional licensing scheme is £660 per building.

Accredited landlords can get a licence fee discount of £40 per letting, and also for each section 257 HMO, which we think is a good idea.

The fees are correct as of December 2017, but could be subject to change in the future. You can check the fees on the council’s website although they are well hidden! Once you click on the link, you need to proceed to page 2 of the form and click on the ‘Fee detail’ button in the top right corner. 

How do I apply for a licence?

You need to visit a licence checker service on the council’s website to find out whether your property needs a licence. If it does, you will then be directed to a new online application form and you can also pay the application fee online. 

You can no longer download a paper application form, so if for any reason you want to submit a paper application, you will need to contact the council direct to see if there is still one available.

When applying for a licence, you will need to provide various supporting documents such as a gas and electrical safety certificates, fire alarm and emergency lighting test certificates (if any) and a floor plan of the property. 

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 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, Islington 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.

Whilst these are the council’s guidelines for all licensed HMOs, the council also expect these standards to be complied with in all HMOs in order to promote good quality accommodation and fairer market conditions. They told us they will look to use other legal provisions to bring non-licensable HMOs up to this same standard, wherever possible.

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, Islington Council had licensed 312 HMOs under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, although a year later, that figure has risen to 360, an increase of 48.

In February 2016, Islington Council told us they were currently processing about 150 applications under the additional licensing scheme. 

When we checked the council’s register of licensed HMOs in June 2017, we found there were 283 properties licensed under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme and 207 properties licensed under the additional licensing scheme.

The Council keeps a public register of all licensed properties which is regularly updated and can be viewed on the Council’s website. It’s nice and simple to use. We like that!

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

Islington Council told us that based on their 2008 housing stock survey, they estimated there could be about 758 properties that need licensing under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.

The council estimated that another 700 HMOs may require a licence on Caledonian Road and Holloway Road under their additional licensing scheme.

Based on these figures, it seems there could still be hundreds of unlicensed HMOs in the borough. It you are one of those landlords, you need to act now to avoid a heavy financial penalty.

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?

Islington Council told us they took nine separate housing prosecutions over the three years from April 2011 to March 2014, plus a further six prosecutions in 2014/15 and six prosecutions in 2015/16. They do seem to be stepping up their enforcement activity.

Islington 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?

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 635 accredited landlords in Islington, which places them in the top quartile 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?

On 12 March 2015, Islington Council Executive approved an additional licensing scheme that started on 1 September 2015. The scheme applies to all HMOs in Caledonian Road and Holloway Road – an estimated 700 properties. For more background information, you can read the Executive Report that implemented the new scheme.

Islington Council had consulted on the proposed additional licensing scheme from 27 October 2014 to 9 January 2015. Before carrying out the consultation, Council Officers had surveyed over 600 properties on these two streets including over 200 HMOs. Almost 70% of HMOs inspected were found to have poor management and badly maintained communal areas.

In March 2015, Islington Council told us they had no current plans to implement a selective licensing scheme.

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 February 2016, we checked with Islington 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. You can find out more information on the council’s website

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 or fire risk assessment, we have 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?

You can contact the council at: 

HMO Licensing Team
Islington Council
3rd Floor
222 Upper Street
N1 1XR

Tel:     020 7527 3205

Islington News

Islington Events

Islington Comment

At a Glance

Licence Overview

Mandatory HMO licensing scheme applies borough wide and an additional licensing scheme applies to part of the borough. There is no selective licensing scheme.

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 7527 3205
Weblink: Islington property licensing

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