London Borough of Redbridge

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Redbridge 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 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?

There are four licensing schemes operating in Redbridge and so it is important to study the details carefully. 

On 13 April 2017 Redbridge Council introduced a borough-wide additional licensing scheme. A selective licensing scheme that covers part of the borough started on 13 July 2017 and a second selective licensing scheme started on 1 October 2018. There is also the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies throughout England.

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

The additional licensing scheme came into force on 13 April 2017 and continues 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
  • 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.

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 Licence

The first selective licensing scheme came into force on 13 July 2017 and continues 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. 

The second selective licensing scheme came into force on 1 October 2018 and continues for five years until 30 September 2023.

This second scheme applies if your property (house or flat) is let out to a single person, couple or single household and is within an area broadly defined by the council wards of Goodmayes, Loxford, Snaresbrook, Roding, Newbury, Mayfield, Cranbrook, Seven Kings, Chadwell, Fairlop, Aldborough and Church End. Any HMOs in that area will need licensing under the mandatory HMO or additional licensing schemes. Unfortunately, there is a further complication in that the scheme was based on the ward boundaries that existed at the time the decision was made to implement the scheme. Some of the ward boundaries are now different! 

To be sure if your property is within the selective licensing area, you need to use the interactive map on the council’s website and search for your address.

How much does a licence cost?

Different fees apply depending on the type of licence you are applying for. 

Mandatory HMO licensing

Redbridge Council HMO licence fees vary according to the number of households (not people) living in the property.

The standard fee is £1,570 (was £1,494 in 2021/21, £800 in 2017/18, £670 in 2016/17) for a shared house with five single person lettings. Costs vary if there are more or less than five households living there.

Unfortunately, we understand the 10% discount for accredited landlords and the lower fees for licence renewals ended on 1 January 2019, which is a shame and makes the cost even higher.

Additional licensing

The standard fee for additional licences was previously £500, whereas from 1 January 2019 the council started changing the higher mandatory HMO licensing rates, which has led to a significant increase in costs.

There is a base fee of £1,300 (was £1,198 in 2020/21) per property plus extra cost depending on how many households occupy the property. For example, an HMO occupied by four unrelated friends would costs £1,450.

Selective licensing

The standard fee is £616 (was £604 in 2020/21 and £500 in 2017/18) for each property.

You can view the latest fees on the council’s website, with mandatory HMO and additional licensing fees here and selective licensing fees here.

The fees we have listed were correct as of April 2021 but could be subject to change in the future. 

How do I apply for a licence?

There is an online application process for mandatory HMO, additional and selective licences and you can find out more information on 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, Redbridge Council have published HMO standards that can be viewed on 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.

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 will apply throughout England to HMOs licensed under a mandatory HMO or additional licensing scheme.

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. 

According to the council’s website, as of September 2018, there were 179 mandatory HMO licences and 86 additional licences.

In May 2019, the council told us they had approved 197 mandatory HMO licences, 205 additional licences and 3,179 selective licences, with thousands more applications being processed.

The council keeps a public register of licensed properties that is regularly updated and can be searched using a postcode search facility on the council’s website.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

The council originally estimated there were between 6,000 and 10,000 Houses in Multiple Occupation that needed licensing plus a further 20,000 private rented homes in the two selective licensing areas. However, when we checked in May 2019, the estimates had reduced to 5,000 HMOs and 19,000 other private rented homes that need licensing. 

This does indicate there are still thousands of properties operating in the borough without the required licence. If you are one of those landlords, it is important that you act now to avoid 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?

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. This was well above average when compared to other London Boroughs. They really are serious when it comes to enforcement!

Redbridge Council obtained one Rent Repayment Order from the landlord of an unlicensed HMO in the five years from 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.  

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

By January 2018, there were 881 accredited landlords, by January 2019 there were 998 accredited landlords, by January 2020 there were 1,268 accredited landlords and by January 2021 there were 1,483 accredited landlords, which is the highest 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?

Not at the moment - there are already four licensing schemes in place!

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 had 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 came into force on 13 July 2017 and borough wide additional licensing was introduced on 13 April 2017.

On 31 May 2018, the council announced they had been given government approval to introduce a second selective licensing scheme covering another 12 wards, which came into force on 1 October 2018. 

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. 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 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.

On 3 December 2018, Redbridge Council made a non-immediate borough wide HMO Article 4 Direction. You can find a copy in the ‘More Information’ box on the top right of this page.

The council consulted on the HMO Article 4 Direction for 8 weeks from 6 December 2018 to 31 January 2019.

The Direction was approved at a Cabinet meeting on 23 April 2019 and came into force on 6 December 2019. This means that planning permission is required to change any property from a single-family home (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.

The changes are not retrospective and so properties converted from use class C3 to C4 under permitted development rules before 6 December 2019 are not affected.

More information is available 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 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 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 Licensing Team
Redbridge Council
10th Floor rear
Lynton House
255-259 High Road
Ilford IG1 1NY

Tel:      020 8708 4845

Redbridge News

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At a Glance

Licence Overview

Mandatory HMO and additional licensing apply borough wide. Two selective licensing schemes apply to part of the borough.

More Information

Contacting the Council

Tel:  020 8708 4845
Weblink: Redbridge property licensing

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