London Borough of Redbridge

The London Borough of Redbridge is in North East London covering an area of 22 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Waltham Forest to the west, Newham to the south, Havering and Barking & Dagenham to the east and with Essex to the north. According to the 2011 Census, about 23% of the housing stock was privately rented which is slightly below the London average of 25% (1 in 4).

Do I need a licence to rent out my property?

The licensing rules in Redbridge are changing so it is important you study the details carefully. We will try to explain. 

On 13 April 2017 Redbridge Council are starting a borough-wide additional licensing scheme. A selective licensing scheme that covers part of the borough starts on 13 July 2017. There is also the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies throughout England and Wales.

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, bring 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

The additional licensing scheme comes into force on 13 April 2017 and will run for five years until 12 April 2022. 

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. So licensing applies to all HMOs in Redbridge. This includes all house and flat-shares occupied by three or more people who are not all related, even if they are on a single tenancy.

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

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

So a building containing both owner-occupied and rented flats may need one licence for the whole building. This is a complex area of law and you may need further advice.

3. Selective Licensing

The selective licensing scheme comes into force on 13 July 2017 and will run for five years until 12 July 2022.

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 in the Council wards of Clementswood or Valentines. Any HMOs in that area will need licensing under 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. Hopefully, the council will publish an interactive map so people can check easily. 

How much does a licence cost?

Different fees apply depending on the type of licence you are applying for and new licensing fees came into force on 1 January 2017. 

Mandatory HMO licensing

Redbridge Council HMO licence fees vary according to the number of occupants and how many storeys there are in the building.

The standard fee is £800 (was £670 in 2016) for a three storey shared house with five single person lettings. It costs extra if there are more people and/or more storeys in the building. Certain discounts are available, including a 10% discount for accredited landlords and a further 10% discount if you have undergone a fit and property person check in the last 3 months.

You can view the latest fees on the Council’s website

Additional licensing

The standard fee is £500 for all properties with a 50% discount if your application is submitted before 12 June 2017, so don’t delay! Please contact us if you need assistance with your application – more information here

There is an extra charge of £100 if you want to submit a paper application form.

You can view the latest fees on the Council’s website

Selective licensing

The standard fee is £500 for all properties with a 50% discount if your application is submitted before 12 September 2017, so don’t delay!

There is an extra charge of £100 if you want to submit a paper application form.

You can view the latest fees on the Council’s website

The fees we have listed were correct as of March 2017 but could be subject to change in the future. 

Can I apply for a licence online?

It depends what type of licence you are applying for. We explain the options below.

Mandatory HMO licence

At the moment, you can only apply by completing an application form that can be downloaded from the council’s website or ask the council to send you one in the post. There are also some guidance notes that you may find useful. 

Additional licence

A new online application process has recently been launched and you can submit your application here

Selective licence

The application process is expected to go live in June 2017 with early bird discounted fees available until 13 September 2017. We will add a link to the application process in due course.

Many landlords find the application process quite complicated and don’t understand all the rules. If you need assistance with a mandatory HMO or additional 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 selective licence applications, we advise you to contact our colleagues at McDowalls Surveyors Limited who specialise in processing selective licence applications. You can visit their website here

Are there any standards I need to comply with?

Yes, Redbridge Council have published HMO standards that can be downloaded from the council’s website. When you click on the link, scroll down to the section called ‘Guidance notes’.

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 December 2014, Redbridge Council had licensed 45 HMOs. By December 2015 there were 76 licensed HMOs and by December 2016, that number had increased again to 116, an increase of 40 in the last year. 

The Council keeps a public register of licensed HMOs that is regularly updated and can be viewed on the council's website. Once you click on the link, you will need to select ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation’ then scroll down to ‘HMO licence register’. 

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

Yes, with the roll out of new additional and selective licensing schemes, there are likely to be many more properties that require licensing.

The council estimate there are between 6,000 and 10,000 Houses in Multiple Occupation that need licensing plus a further 4,000 private rented homes in the selective licensing area.

If you are one of the landlords that needs a licence, it is important that you 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 could 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! (find out more

Does the Council take much housing enforcement action?

Yes, Redbridge Council took nineteen housing prosecutions over the three-year period April 2011 to March 2014, a further ten in 2014/15 and one in 2015/16, so an average of six housing prosecutions a year. We understand they are currently working of a further set of prosecutions. This is well above average when compared to other London Boroughs. They really are serious when it comes to enforcement!

Redbridge Council have obtained one Rent Repayment Order from the landlord of an unlicensed HMO in the last five years (April 2011 to March 2016). A First-tier Tribunal approved the Order in July 2014 and the landlord was ordered to repay £6,562.26.  

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 575 accredited landlords in Redbridge, which is above average when compared to all the London boroughs.

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?

Yes, new schemes are currently being introduced although it is a long story so we will try and keep things brief!

From 24 November 2014 to 25 February 2015, Redbridge Council consulted on proposals to introduce borough wide selective and additional licensing. This would have extended licensing to almost every private rented property in the borough – over 20,000 properties. The Council received over 1,700 responses. 

A property licensing report was then presented to councillors for discussion at the Neighbourhoods and Communities Service Committee Meeting on 3 June 2015. The report was subsequently approved at a Cabinet meeting on 9 June 2015. The council decided to implement borough-wide selective and additional licensing.

Unfortunately for the council, the law had changed and so they needed to get permission from the Secretary of State to implement the borough wide selective licensing scheme. They asked the government for approval but their application was refused in December 2015. The government did not think there was enough evidence to justify a borough wide selective licensing scheme.

In the meantime, Redbridge Council consulted on two further selective licensing scheme proposals from 25 July to 16 October 2016 – one covering just two wards and the other covering an additional 12 wards. 

On 13 December 2016, the council’s Cabinet approved a selective licensing scheme in Clementswood and Valentines wards that will come into force on 13 July 2017 and borough wide additional licensing is being introduced on 13 April 2017. The council also intend to seek approval from the government for a larger scheme covering an extra 12 wards, we watch this space.  

There’s clearly a lot going on at Redbridge so we will monitor the situation closely and keep you posted. For all the latest developments, 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.

For smaller HMOs, the rules are a bit more complicated. HMOs occupied by between three and six people fall into planning use class C4 whereas single-family properties fall into planning use class C3.

In January 2016, we confirmed that Redbridge Council did not have an HMO Article 4 Direction in force, although the situation could change at any time. We checked again in March 2017 and nothing seemed to have changed, although you can check for yourself by visiting 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: 

Property Licensing Team
Redbridge Council
10th Floor rear
Lynton House
255-259 High Road
Ilford IG1 1NY

Email: PRSLicensing@redbridge.gov.uk
Tel:      020 8708 4845
Website: www.redbridge.gov.uk

Redbridge News

Redbridge Events

Redbridge Comment

At a Glance

Licence Overview

Borough-wide additional licensing starts on 13 April 2017 and a smaller selective licensing scheme starts in Redbridge on 13 July 2017. The mandatory HMO licensing scheme applies borough wide. 

Contacting the Council

Tel:  020 8708 4845
Email: PRSLicensing@redbridge.gov.uk
Weblink: Redbridge property licensing

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