London Borough of Ealing

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Ealing, 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 Ealing is in west London covering an area of 21 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Hillingdon to the west, Hammersmith & Fulham to the east, Harrow and Brent to the north and Hounslow to the south. According to the 2011 Census about 28% of the housing stock was privately rented which is higher than 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 Ealing 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 1 January 2017, Ealing 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 31 December 2021. The council recently consulted on proposals for new property licensing schemes.

There is also the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies across England. So 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 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 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 but meets the following criteria:

  • All HMOs that comprise two or more storeys and are occupied by four or more people who share facilities, including those in mixed use developments or over non-residential accommodation.

The House in Multiple Occupation definition is not straightforward and you will need to study it carefully or seek advice. For example, Ealing 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.

Fortunately, Ealing have restricted the licensing of section 257 HMOs to buildings where the number of flats exceeds the number of storeys in the building and where the building and all of the flats within it are either in the same ownership or considered by the council to be effectively under the same control.

We understand the restriction on the number of flats exceeding the number of storeys does not apply in mixed use developments, or above commercial premises. This is a complex area of law and you may need further 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 is located in the Council wards of Acton Central, East Acton, South Acton, Southall Broadway and Southall Green. Selective licences are also needed for HMOs in these areas that do not fall within 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. To find out if your property is within the selective licensing area, you can use a postcode search facility on the council’s website

In summary, if you rent out a House in Multiple Occupation in Ealing, it will need to be licensed if it meets their scheme criteria. If you rent out any other property, it will need to be licensed if it is in the Council wards of Acton Central, East Acton, South Acton, Southall Broadway and Southall Green. 

How much does a licence cost?

For mandatory HMO and additional licensing, Ealing Council charge a standard fee of £1,100 (£1,007 in 2015/16, £994 in 2014/15) per property plus an additional £30 for each habitable room (i.e. bedroom or living room). So the fee is £1,250 for a three storey shared house with five single person lettings and no shared living room.

For selective licensing, Ealing Council charge a standard fee of £500 per property. However, if the same landlord has two or more flats within the same building, we understand the fee has been reduced to £450 per flat. 

There is also a £75 discount if the licence holder or designated manager belongs to an approved accreditation scheme which we think this is a good idea. 

The fees we have listed were 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.

How do I apply for a licence?

Ealing Council have introduced a fully integrated online application system for mandatory HMO, additional and selective licence applications. You can apply by visiting the council’s website

If you need assistance with your licence application, you can find companies offering a licence application handling service in our Landlord Suppliers Directory (here). Whilst we do handle some applications, we have limited capacity and 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, Ealing Council has adopted HMO standards that you can view on the council’s website. The standards apply to Houses in Multiple Occupation that are licensed under the mandatory HMO or additional licensing schemes. 

They cover a range of issues such as kitchen, bathroom and toilet facilities, room sizes, fire precautions, heating, lighting and ventilation. 

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 December 2015, Ealing Council announced they had licensed 377 HMOs under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, up from 310 in February 2015. There were a further 247 HMOs licensed under the additional licensing scheme.

In August 2017, the council told us they had licensed 510 properties under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, 484 under the additional licensing scheme and 795 under the selective licensing scheme, so 1,789 in total.

In May 2019, the council told us they had licensed 967 properties under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, 778 under the additional licensing scheme and 5,746 under the selective licensing scheme, so 7,491 in total.

On 31 March 2021, the council told us they had licensed 1,404 properties under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, 835 under the additional licensing scheme and 8,069 under the selective licensing scheme, so 10,308 in total.

Ealing Council keeps a public register of all licensed properties that is regularly updated and can be viewed on the council’s website. When you click on the link, you will need to select ‘Licensing’ in the search box in the top left corner. We would suggest you then pick ‘Advanced’ and then select the licence type you are interested in. 

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

In May 2019, Ealing Council told us they think there could be 5,000 licensable HMOs under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, 15,000 licensable HMOs under the additional licensing scheme and 6,830 licensable properties under the selective licensing scheme.

Within the council’s 2021 licensing consultation report, the estimated number of HMOs had been revised down significantly to 8,360.

Whilst the council have granted more selective licences than expected, this suggests there are thousands of HMOs where no licence application has been submitted.

If you are the landlord of a licensable but unlicensed property, we would strongly recommend you apply now to minimise the compliance risk.

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?

Ealing Council told us they took four housing prosecutions over the three-year period from April 2011 to March 2014, two prosecutions in 2014/15, six prosecutions in 2015/16 and two prosecutions in 2016/17, so it seems they are stepping up their housing enforcement activity.

The council did not obtain any Rent Repayment Orders from the landlords of unlicensed properties over the six years from April 2011 to March 2017. This is based on data published by the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary. 

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 835 accredited landlords in Ealing, which is the highest out of all London boroughs. 

By January 2018, there were 1,116 accredited landlords, by January 2019 there were 1,218 accredited landlords, by January 2020 there were 1,325 accredited landlords and by January 2021 there were 1,425 accredited landlords which is the second highest when compared with all London boroughs. Well done Ealing landlords!

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, Ealing Council consulted on proposals for new additional and selective licensing schemes from 10 May to 16 August 2021. The council wants to widen the additional licensing scheme criteria to include most HMOs and extend the selective licensing scheme to cover 15 wards.

We have also summarised the development process for their existing licensing schemes. In June 2015 Ealing Council told us that research was being carried out to review the additional licensing scheme and assess the feasibility of any future licensing schemes in the borough.

On 15 December 2015, a report outlining private rented sector licensing proposals was presented at the Cabinet meeting (view here - see agenda item 19). The report recommended consultation on a borough wide additional licensing scheme covering all HMOs, plus a smaller selective licensing scheme covering all private rented homes in the five council wards of Acton Central, East Acton, South Acton, Southall Broadway and Southall Green.

The public consultation exercise took place from 11 January to 3 April 2016. A report was presented at the Cabinet meeting on 12 July 2016 (read here), approving new selective and additional licensing schemes that started on 1 January 2017. 

There is clearly a lot happening in Ealing so we will continue to monitor the situation and will keep you posted. For all the latest news, 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. 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 August 2016, we checked with Ealing 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 more information about Article 4 Directions 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: 

Property Regulation
Ealing Council
Perceval House
14-16 Uxbridge Road
London W5 2HL

Tel:     020 8825 9512

Ealing News

Ealing Events

Ealing Comment

At a Glance

Licence Overview

Mandatory HMO and additional licensing schemes apply borough wide. A selective licensing scheme covers part of the borough.

Ealing Council consulted on proposals for new additional and selective licensing schemes from 10 May to 16 August 2021.

More Information

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 8825 9512
Weblink: Ealing property licensing

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