London Borough of Barnet

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Barnet 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, the London Borough of Barnet is in North London covering an area of 33 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Harrow and Brent to the west, Camden to the south and Haringey and Enfield to the east. According to the 2011 Census, about 26% of the housing stock was privately rented which is marginally above 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 Barnet Council do not operate a selective licensing scheme.

If you rent your property as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), the answer is more complicated. Barnet Council had an additional licensing scheme that ended on 4 July 2021. There is still the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies throughout England.

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 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. Additional licensing

The additional licensing scheme started on 5 July 2016 and ended on 4 July 2021. The council consulted on plans for a replacement scheme until 5 November 2021.

While the scheme applied borough wide, the licensing criteria were quite complicated. The scheme applied to HMOs that met any of the following criteria:

  • Any HMO of two or more storeys, occupied by four or more persons in two or more households and where some or all facilities are shared or missing.
  • Any flat occupied by four or more persons in two or more households and where some or all facilities are shared or missing, where the flat is on the second storey or higher.
  • Any HMO of two or more storeys, with a resident owner and occupied by four or more other persons in two or more households and where some or all facilities are shared or missing.
  • Any house of two or more storeys comprised of both self-contained and non­ self-contained units of accommodation occupied in aggregate by four or more persons in two or more households (not including a resident owner), some of whom share or lack one or more basic amenities such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities.

The council had included ‘section 257 HMOs: certain converted blocks of flats’ in the scheme. These are properties that:

  • have been converted into self-contained flats;
  • 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.

Rather than including all section 257 HMOs, the council only included ones that comprised three or more storeys and had been converted into and consisted of four or more self-contained flats and where both the building and self-contained flats it contained were owned by the same person (none of the individual flats within the building being under separate ownership).

How much does a licence cost?

The council charge a standard HMO licensing fee of £1,404.02 (was £1,386 in 2020/21, £1,233 in 2019/20, £1,202 in 2018/19, £1,008 in 2016/17, £989 in 2015/16 and £985 in 2014/15) for a property with up to five units of accommodation, plus an extra £26.84 for each unit of accommodation above five. The fee is payable in two instalments.

Barnet Council offer a 10% discount for accredited landlords, which we think is a good idea. 

The fees we’ve listed are correct as of November 2021 but could be subject to change in the future. You can view the fees in full on the council’s website (you will need to download the licence application form to find the list of fees).

How do I apply for a licence?

Unfortunately, there is no online application system – it’s a bit old fashioned! Instead, you can download the application form from the council's website, print it out and complete by hand.

Once you have completed the application, you can send it back to the council by post, or scan and email them a copy.

If you need assistance with your licence application, you can find companies offering a licence application handling service in our Landlord Suppliers Directory (here). We also handle some applications, although we specialise in more complex cases where we provide our clients with expert advice and assistance.

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, Barnet Council has adopted HMO standards that apply to all licensed HMOs. The council have also published a separate guide to fire safety in HMOs. You can download copies from the council's website. Once you have clicked on the link, you will need to scroll down to the bottom of the page.

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 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 January 2015, Barnet Council told us they had licensed 145 HMOs and by February 2016 that number had risen to 183. When we checked in June 2017 there were 436 licensed HMOs, in July 2018 there were 468 and in May 2019 there were 477 properties licensed under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.

A further 501 properties had been licensed under the council’s additional licensing scheme in May 2019.

In May 2021, the council said 591 properties had been licensed under the additional licensing scheme and about 600 under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.

Every council must have a public register of licensed HMOs that is regularly updated and you can view the register on the council’s website.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

In May 2019, Barnet Council told us there were 635 properties that need licensing under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme and 3,836 properties that needed licensing under the additional licensing scheme.

Whilst the additional licensing scheme has now ended, there could be a hundred or more properties that need licensing under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme but where no licence application has yet been submitted.

If you are the landlord of a licensable HMO, you should apply now to avoid facing the consequences of non-compliance.

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?

Barnet Council took eight housing prosecutions over the five years from April 2011 to March 2016, so an average of just over one prosecution a year.

The council did not obtain any Rent Repayment Orders from the landlords of unlicensed HMOs over the four years from April 2011 to March 2015, but one was obtained in 2015/16. The landlord of a property in Golders Green was ordered to repay £15,778.56 to their tenants. That’s a considerable sum and shows the importance of getting your property licensed at the earliest opportunity!

For all the latest information, you can search for housing prosecutions on the Mayor of London’s ‘Rogue landlord and agent checker’, available here.

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 580 accredited landlords in Barnet, which was above average when compared to all the London boroughs.

By January 2018, there were 788 accredited landlords, by January 2019 there were 989 accredited landlords, by January 2020 there were 1,092 accredited landlords and by January 2021 there were 1,196 accredited landlords which is well above 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?

Yes they are. A report was presented to the council’s Housing and Growth Committee on 14 June 2021 recommending a consultation on plans for new additional and selective licensing schemes (read here - see agenda item 12). The consultation ran from 5 August to 5 November 2021, and you can find out more information on the council’s website.

Previously, on 2 February 2015, Barnet Council’s Housing Committee decided to consult on a borough wide additional licensing scheme covering about 5,000 HMOs. The council believed that there was evidence to indicate that a significant proportion of HMO’s in Barnet were being managed inadequately and the housing conditions could be improved.

The proposal was subject to public consultation from 25 June to 23 October 2015. 

On 1 February 2016, a report was presented to the council’s Housing Committee proposing the introduction of an additional licensing scheme (read here - see agenda item 7). The report was unanimously supported and the new licensing scheme came into force on 5 July 2016 and ended on 4 July 2021.

There is clearly a lot happening in Barnet so we will monitor the situation closely and keep you posted.

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 28 May 2015, Barnet Council made a borough-wide Article 4 Direction that removes the permitted development rights to change a property from use class C3 to use class C4 without planning permission. You can download a copy of the Article 4 Direction from the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this page.

Barnet Council consulted on the Article 4 Direction from 28 May to 30 August 2015. The Article 4 Direction came into force on 29 May 2016 after being confirmed at Barnet Council’s Planning Committee meeting on 23 May (read here – see agenda item 11).

The effect of the Article 4 Direction is to require planning permission to change the use from a single-family property (C3) to an HMO with up to six occupants (class C4). So even letting your property to three people who are not all related could require planning permission. More information is available on the council’s website

We have prepared some general advice on HMO Article 4 Directions that you may find useful, available here

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: 

HMO Licensing Team
Barnet Council
2 Bristol Avenue
London NW9 4EW

Tel:       020 8359 5355

Barnet News

Barnet Events

Barnet Comment

At a Glance

Licence Overview

No selective licensing in Barnet but the mandatory HMO licensing scheme applies borough wide. The additional licensing scheme ended on 4 July 2021.

Barnet Council consulted on plans for new additional and selective licensing schemes from 5 August to 5 November 2021.

More Information

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 8359 5355
Weblink: Barnet HMO licensing

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