London Borough of Barking & Dagenham

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Barking and Dagenham 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. Our Landlord Suppliers Directory (view here) lists companies that offer a licence application handling service. You can also find companies offering a wide range of other goods and services to help you manage your property portfolio and achieve compliance.

To help set the scene,  London Borough of Barking & Dagenham is in East London covering an area of 14 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Newham to the west, Havering to the east, Redbridge to the north and with the River Thames to the south. According to the 2011 Census about 18% of the housing stock was privately rented which is lower than the London average of 25% (1 in 4).

Do I need a licence to rent out my property?

Most private rented properties in Barking & Dagenham need to be licensed by the council. There are very few exemptions.

On 1 September 2014, the council implemented a borough wide additional licensing scheme and a borough wide selective licensing scheme. Both schemes operated for five years and ended on 31 August 2019.

A replacement selective (but not additional) licensing scheme came into force on 1 September 2019 and will continue for a further five years. You can view the scheme designation in the 'More Information' box on the right of this page.

There is also the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies across England.

If you think you need a licence, you now need to decide which one. We will try to help you select the right licence for your property.

1. Mandatory HMO licence

You will need a mandatory HMO licence if your property meets the standard test, self-contained flat test or converted building test HMO definition in section 254 of the Housing Act 2004 and is occupied by five or more people.

But what are these tests and what does this mean in practice? It means you need a licence for any house or flat that is occupied by five or more people who are not all related and live in the property as their main home. For example, it includes:

  • Shared houses and flats occupied by students and young professionals;
  • Properties converted into bedsits with some shared facilities; and
  • Properties converted into a mixture of self-contained and non self-contained accommodation.  

Prior to 1 October 2018, the mandatory HMO licensing scheme only applied to properties that were three or more storeys in height, but that restriction has now been lifted.

The government have decided to exclude purpose built self-contained flats within a block comprising three or more self-contained flats from the mandatory HMO licensing scheme. While this will be good news for some landlords, it does make the licensing scheme far more complicated.

To find out more, you can read our free guide to mandatory HMO licensing (here).

2. Selective Licence

You will need a selective licence if your property (house or flat) is let out to a single person, single household, two unrelated sharers, or is an HMO not covered by the mandatory HMO licensing scheme. 

In summary, if you provide private rented accommodation in Barking & Dagenham, you need to get a licence for each property you rent out, unless it falls into one of the few statutory exemptions.

How much does a licence cost?

In Barking & Dagenham, it depends on the type of licence you are applying for.

Mandatory HMO licence
The standard fee is £1,300 (was £956 in 2018/19, £920 in 2017/18, £900 in 2016/17, £714 in 2015/16) for a property with up to five habitable rooms. If there are more rooms, the fee will be higher.

Selective licence
The standard fee is £900 per property, payable in two instalments (was £506 in 2018/19, £500 in 2015/16). There is a discount for licence renewals in certain circumstances.

If the application is from a ‘landlord of concern’ with previous management contraventions or a person who is being investigated for any housing or tenancy contraventions or fraud, the cost will relate to a one-year licence only.

The council has not listed any fee discounts for accredited landlords, which we think is a shame.

These fees were last checked in May 2023 but could be subject to change in the future. You can view the mandatory HMO licensing fees here and the selective licensing fees here on the council's website. 

How do I apply for a licence?

There is an online application and payment system for all property licence applications, which can be accessed via the council’s website.

We offer a licence application handling service in Barking & Dagenham and you can find further information here. Simply complete the online enquiry form to get the process underway.

You can find other companies offering a licence application handling service in our Landlord Suppliers Directory (here).

It is important to remember that submitting a licence application is only the start of the licence approval process. To help landlords understand what happens next, we have published a free guide here.

Are there any standards I need to comply with?

Yes, the HMO standards can be downloaded from the council's website. You will need to click on the ‘HMO (houses in multiple occupation) licences’ button and then scroll down to ‘Information and Guidance and select 'HMO East London guidance’.

The standards cover a range of issues such as kitchen, bathroom and toilet facilities, fire precautions, heating, lighting, ventilation and room sizes. They apply to HMOs licensed under the mandatory HMO and additional licensing schemes. They don’t apply to single-family properties licensed under the selective licensing scheme.

It is important to note that new absolute minimum bedroom sizes for licensed HMOs have been introduced for HMO licence applications approved on or after 1 October 2018:

  • 4.64m2 for a child under 10 years old
  • 6.51m2 for one person over 10 years old
  • 10.22m2 for two people over 10 years old

The council can still ask for larger minimum sizes. These new minimum sizes apply throughout England to HMOs licensed under a mandatory HMO or additional licensing scheme.

How many properties has the Council licensed?

In February 2015, the council told us they had licensed just 20 HMOs under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme. We checked again in December 2015 and found this had increased to 25 HMOs, although two had expired licences so there were actually 23. 

By December 2015, the council told us they had approved over 4,000 licences, a further 3,600 had been inspected and the licence applications were being processed, whilst another 2,800 were awaiting an inspection. They said they were undertaking about 600 visits a month.

By May 2017, the council told us they had approved 10,836 selective licences, 264 additional licences and 48 mandatory HMO licences. A further 3,293 selective, 46 additional and 21 mandatory HMO licence applications were being processed at that time.

By May 2019, the council told us they had approved 12,435 selective licences, 366 additional licences and 62 mandatory HMO licences.

The council keeps a public register of licensed properties that is regularly updated. You can search the register on the council's website.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

In May 2019, Barking and Dagenham Council told us there could be around 18,500 private rented properties that need selective licensing, plus another 500 that fall under HMO licensing.

It seems there could still be several thousand properties where no application has yet been submitted.

If you are one of those landlords who have failed to apply for the correct licence, it is important you act now before their enforcement officers come looking for you!

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.

Alternatively, 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.

Does the Council take much housing enforcement action?

In London, most boroughs publish information about housing prosecutions and civil financial penalties on the Mayor of London’s ‘Rogue landlord and agent checker’. You can search the database by entering a property address, landlord / agent name or by selecting the relevant borough, available here

How many accredited landlords are there?

There are landlord accreditation schemes operated by the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) and other organisations. 

Whilst we don’t have any figures for the NRLA scheme, 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 551 accredited landlords in Barking and Dagenham, which was just above average when compared to all the London boroughs.

January 2018: 697 accredited landlords
January 2019: 874 accredited landlords
January 2020: 952 accredited landlords
January 2021: 1,006 accredited landlords
January 2022: 1,143 accredited landlords

By January 2023 there were 1,224 accredited landlords, which is slightly below average when compared to all the London boroughs. To find out more about becoming accredited, you can visit the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme website here.

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?

There are no imminent changes that we are aware of. A new borough wide selective licensing scheme came into force on 1 September 2019, following approval by the Secretary of State.

The council undertook an initial consultation to gather feedback on a range of options between 1 December 2017 and 25 February 2018. A further consultation took place from 21 September to 15 December 2018.

On 22 January 2019 a report to the council’s Cabinet meeting recommended renewal of the selective licensing scheme (read here - see item 80) and the government subsequently granted approval.

The situation is less clear regarding their additional licensing scheme which ended on 31 August 2019. The council told us they intended to consult on a replacement scheme, but as of May 2023, that has not happened. For all the latest news, you can sign up to our free newsletter (here).

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 also need planning permission if you a splitting up a property into smaller self-contained units of accommodation. 

For smaller HMOs, the rules are more complicated. HMOs occupied by up to six people fall into planning use class C4 whereas single-family properties fall into planning use class C3.

On 14 May 2011, Barking & Dagenham Council made an Article 4 Direction that removes the permitted development rights to change a property from a single-family house (use class C3) to an HMO occupied by up to six people (use class C4) without planning permission.

The Article 4 Direction applies borough-wide and came into force on 14 May 2012. So from that date, even letting your property to three people who are not all related could require planning permission.

You can download a copy of the Article 4 Direction from the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this page. We also have some more general advice on HMO Article 4 Directions that you can read here.

To find out more you can visit the planning page on the council’s website.

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. 

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: 

Private Rented Property Licensing Team
Barking and Dagenham Council
Barking Town Hall
1 Clock House Avenue
Barking IG11 7LU

Tel:       020 8724 8898

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At a Glance

Licence Overview

In Barking & Dagenham, mandatory HMO and selective licensing schemes apply borough wide. The additional licensing scheme ended in 2019.

More Information

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 8724 8898
Weblink: Barking & Dagenham licensing

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