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. We can handle the licence application process and give you expert advice and guidance along the way (read here). Once you have read through our guide, if you do need any assistance you can contact us here.  

We also have a Landlord Suppliers Directory (here) to help you find the goods and services you need in the London area, with new suppliers regularly added.

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?

Yes, all 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 operate for five years until 31 August 2019. You can view the scheme designations in the 'More Information' box to the right of this page.

There is also the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies across England. So in total, there are three separate licensing schemes.

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. Additional licence

You will need an additional licence if your property is let as a House in Multiple Occupation that is not already covered by mandatory HMO licensing scheme. So licensing applies to all HMOs in the borough.

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

3. Selective Licence

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 not an HMO. So this scheme captures all private rented properties that are not HMOs.

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 £956 (was £920 in 2017/18, £900 in 2016/17, £714 in 2015/16) for a three storey shared house with five single person lettings. If there are more lettings, the fee will be higher. There is an extra fee of at least £161.50 (was £155 in 2017/18, £150 in 2016/17, £144 in 2015/16) if you need help completing the forms. 

Additional licence
The standard fee is £700 per property (was £500 in 2015/16). 

Selective licence
The standard fee is £506 (was £500 in 2015/16) per property.

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 September 2018 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?

There are two separate application processes according to the type of licence you are applying for.

You can’t apply online for a mandatory HMO licence. It is a bit old fashioned! Instead, you need to download the application form, complete it by hand and post it back to the council. The form and accompanying guidance notes can be downloaded here.

You can apply online for an additional or selective licence with one application form that covers both licensing schemes. Alternatively, you can also download an application form and complete it by hand. Both options are available by visiting the council’s website.

If you need assistance with your licence application, we can help you. We offer a unique hassle-free, one-stop-shop service to handle your licence application from start to finish and all for a fixed fee. As part of the service, we carry out an inspection of your property and provide expert advice on compliance. You can find out more about our licence application handling service here.

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

Are there any standards I need to comply with?

Yes, the HMO standards can be downloaded from the council's website - scroll down to the HMO licences 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.

These standards 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.

New absolute minimum bedroom sizes for licensed HMOs are being 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 will still be able to 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 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.

The council keeps a public register of licensed properties that is regularly updated. A restricted version of the register has been published on the council's website.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

In early 2015, Barking and Dagenham Council told us there could be up to 17,500 licensable private rented properties although in December 2015, they revised that estimate down to 15,000.

It seems there could still be hundreds if not a thousand or more properties where no application has yet been submitted. We are particularly surprised at the low number of HMOs where applications have been submitted – less than 400 throughout the borough.

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.

From April 2017 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. We can help you get your property licensed! (find out more). 

Does the Council take much housing enforcement action?

Barking and Dagenham Council did not take any housing prosecutions over the four years from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2015. Since then, things have started to change.

The council took thirteen successful housing prosecutions in 2015/16 and six in 2016/17, which shows they are moving up the prosecution league table when compared to other London Boroughs.

The council did not obtain any Rent Repayment Orders from the landlords of unlicensed properties over the last four years from April 2011 to March 2015. However in December 2015 a landlord was ordered to repay over £5,000 of housing benefit to the council after failing to apply for a selective licence. This is based on data published by the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

We expect that this higher level of enforcement activity will continue as the council crack down on landlords who have still not applied for a licence. 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 551 accredited landlords in Barking and Dagenham, which was just above average when compared to all the London boroughs.

By January 2018, that figure had increased to 697, which remains just 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, Barking and Dagenham Council have started to prepare plans to renew the additional and selective licensing schemes that end in August 2019.

The council undertook an initial consultation to gather feedback on a range of options for a new licensing scheme, between 1 December 2017 and 25 February 2018

A further consultation is now taking place from 21 September to 15 December 2018 and you can find out more information on the council’s website.

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

Email:  privaterentedpropertylicensing@lbbd.gov.uk
Tel:       020 8724 8898
Website: www.lbbd.gov.uk

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At a Glance

Licence Overview

Additional, selective and mandatory HMO licensing schemes all apply borough wide.

Consultation on plans to renew the additional and selective licensing schemes for another five years is taking place from 21 September to 15 December 2018.

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