London Borough of Newham

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Newham 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  London Borough of Newham is in East London covering an area of 14 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets to the west, Barking & Dagenham to the east, Redbridge and Waltham Forest to the north and with the River Thames to the south. According to the 2011 Census about 34% (1 in 3) of the housing stock was privately rented which is significantly higher than the London average of 25% (1 in 4).

Do I need a licence to rent out my property?

You will almost certainly need a licence to rent out your property in Newham as the council operates borough wide mandatory HMO licensing combined with additional licensing and selective licensing schemes covering most of the borough. There are very few exemptions.

The borough wide additional and selective licensing schemes were introduced on 1 January 2013 and operated for five years until 31 December 2017.

A replacement additional licensing scheme covering most of the borough came into force on 1 January 2018 and runs for five years until 31 December 2022.

A replacement selective licensing scheme covering most of the borough came into force on 1 March 2018 and runs for five years until 28 February 2023.

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

1. Mandatory HMO licence

You 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 need an additional licence if your property is let as a House in Multiple Occupation that is not already covered by the mandatory HMO licensing scheme. The licensing scheme applies borough wide except for properties in the ‘E20’ postcode.

The House in Multiple Occupation definition is not straightforward and you will need to study it carefully. For example, Newham Council have included ‘section 257 HMOs’ within the remit of the 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 selective licensing scheme applies borough wide except for properties in the ‘E20’ postcode. You need a selective licence if your property (house or flat) is let out to a single person, couple or single household and is located anywhere else in the borough.

Once you have obtained a selective licence, you cannot let the property out as an HMO as that requires a different type of licence.

In summary, if you let out private rented accommodation in Newham, you will need to get a licence for each property you rent out, unless it falls into one of the very few statutory exemptions or is within the E20 area. You can find a lot of useful information on the council’s website.

How much does a licence cost?

In Newham, it depends on the type of licence you are applying for.

For the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, fees start at £1,050 (£950 in 2014/15) for properties containing up to five lettings, up to a maximum of £1,650 if there are 20 or more lettings. 

For the additional licensing scheme, the application fee is £1,250 (£850 in 2016/17, £500 in 2014/15).  

For the selective licensing scheme, the application fee is £750 (£500 is 2016/17). 

There are no discounts listed for accredited landlords, which we think is a shame.

These fees are correct as of January 2022 and may be subject to change. The fees are published on the council’s website.

How do I apply for a licence?

Newham Council have an online application and payment system that can be accessed on the council’s website. You will need to make sure you apply for the correct type of licence for your property, as there is a separate application process for each scheme.

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, Newham Council have adopted standards for licensed HMOs, published in Appendix 2 of their licensing guide, available on the council’s website. Once you click on the link, you can download the guide from the ‘Documents for landlords' box on the right of the Newham web-page.

The standards cover a range of issues such as kitchen, bathroom and toilet facilities, fire precautions, heating, lighting and ventilation.

These standards only apply to HMOs licenced 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?

Newham Council has licensed far more properties than any other London Borough. In February 2015, they told us they had licensed 32,511 properties:

  • 344 mandatory HMO licences;
  • 2,710 additional licences; and
  • 29,457 selective licences.

By December 2016, Newham Council said they had issued 38,941 licences to 25,163 licence holders.

In May 2019, they told us they had licensed 35,341 properties:

  • 646 mandatory HMO licences;
  • 2,609 additional licences; and
  • 32,086 selective licences.

Newham Council keeps a public register of all licensed properties which is regularly updated and can be viewed online.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

Whilst the council have licensed over 35,000 properties, it seems there could still be several thousand licensable but unlicensed properties in the borough. In May 2019, the council told us they think there could be around 40,000 private rented properties that need licensing.

Newham Council operate a robust enforcement policy and so if your property is unlicensed or has the wrong type of licence for the current occupancy arrangements, it is important to get this sorted out before council officers coming knocking on your door. For expert advice and assistance, please contact us

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 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, Newham Council have devoted significant resources to their housing enforcement action. They told us they took 359 housing prosecutions over the three years from April 2011 to March 2014, which is by far the highest number when compared to all other London Boroughs.

In fact, Newham Council have carried out more housing prosecutions over this period than all the other London boroughs put together! Newham take housing enforcement very seriously and conduct regular enforcement operations to tackle unsafe, substandard and unlicensed properties.  

The council obtained eight Rent Repayment Orders (RROs) from the landlords of unlicensed properties over the four year period from April 2011 to March 2015. A further eighteen RROs were obtained in 2015/16, which is far more than any London Borough. This is based on data published by the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary and information provided by the council. 

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 598 accredited landlords in Newham, which was the 11th highest out of all London boroughs.

January 2018: 894 accredited landlords
January 2019: 978 accredited landlords
January 2020: 1,105 accredited landlords
January 2021: 1,304 accredited landlords

By January 2022, there were 1580 accredited landlords, which is in the top 5 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, Newham Council consulted on new additional and selective licensing schemes from 9 November 2021 to 26 January 2022. The proposals included a new borough wide additional licensing scheme and a selective licensing scheme covering the whole borough except for the Royal Victoria and Stratford Olympic Park council wards. You can find out more about the consultation on the council’s website

For all the latest information, 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 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 31 July 2012, Newham 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 31 July 2013. 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 have published some further guidance about HMO Article 4 Directions, avaialble here.

To find out more information from Newham Council, 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: 

Property Licensing Team
Newham Council
Newham Dockside
1000 Dockside Road
E16 2QU

Tel:     020 3373 1950

Newham News

Newham Events

Newham Comment

At a Glance

Licence Overview

Additional, selective and mandatory HMO licensing schemes apply throughout most of the borough.

Newham Council consulted on proposed new additional and selective licensing schemes from 9 November 2021 to 26 January 2022.

More Information

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 3373 1950
Weblink: Newham property licensing

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