London Borough of Bexley

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Bexley 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.

Licensing Requirements

Do I need a licence to rent out my property?

There is currently one licensing scheme operating in Bexley. We will 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).

How much does a licence cost?

Mandatory HMO licence

Bexley Council charge a base fee of £320 plus £166 per letting. So, an HMO with five separate single person lettings / bedrooms costs £1,150. The fee is paid in two instalments. Lower fees apply to licence renewals.

The fees we have listed were correct as of February 2024, although they could be subject to change in the future. You can view the fees on the council’s website.

How do I apply for a licence?

Bexley Council has an online application and payment system and you can apply by visiting the council’s website.

We offer a licence application handling service in Bexley and you can find further information here. Simply complete the online enquiry form to get the process underway.  

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

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?

Bexley Council have published HMO standards that apply to all licensed HMOs. You can view a copy on the council’s website. You will need to click on the link “Important information about applying for a licence”.

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?

By April 2022, Bexley Council’s public register listed 149 mandatory HMO licences and 1,786 selective licences. It is not known how many selective licences had been issued by the time the scheme ended in August 2023.

Bexley Council keeps a public register of all licensed properties that is regularly updated and can be viewed on the council’s website. It is in CSV format which makes it difficult to read.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

In May 2019, Bexley Council told us that they think there could be 525 licensable HMOs in the borough.

Any landlords of licensable properties should apply now to avoid facing the consequences on 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?

In London, most boroughs publish information about housing prosecutions and civil financial penalties on the Mayor of London’s ‘Rogue landlord and agent checker’. You can search the database by entering a property address, landlord / agent name or by selecting the relevant borough, available here

How many accredited landlords are there?

There are landlord accreditation schemes operated by the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) and other organisations. 

Whilst we don’t have any figures for the NRLA scheme, 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 294 accredited landlords in Bexley, which was the fourth lowest out of all London boroughs.

January 2018: 309 accredited landlords
January 2019: 428 accredited landlords
January 2020: 442 accredited landlords
January 2021: 473 accredited landlords
January 2022: 655 accredited landlords
January 2023: 797 accredited landlords

By January 2024 there were 892 accredited landlords in Bexley, which is third lowest 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?

On 19 January 2024 Bexley Council launched a consultation on plans to implement a new selective licensing scheme. The consultation is exploring three options:

Option 1: A scheme covering the Belvedere council ward.

Option 2: A scheme covering another undefined area.

Option 3: Not implementing a new scheme.

The consultation is underway until 3 April 2024 and more information can be found on the council’s website

For all the latest news on what’s happening, 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 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 16 September 2016, Bexley Council made a non-immediate HMO 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 24 September 2017. 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 ‘At a Glance’ box on the right of this page. You can also find out more information 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 negotiation and dispute resolution, 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 Sector Team
Bexley Council
Civic Offices
2 Watling Street
Bexleyheath
Kent DA6 7AT

Email: rentitright@bexley.gov.uk
Tel: 020 3045 3456
Website: www.bexley.gov.uk

Latest News

Consultations

Schemes

There are currently no new licensing schemes we are aware of that are being introduced in the London Borough of Bexley

Events

Opinion

At a Glance

Licence Overview

In Bexley, mandatory HMO licensing applies borough wide but there is no additional licensing scheme. The council are consulting on a proposed selective licensing scheme until 3 April 2024.

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 3045 3456
Email: rentitright@bexley.gov.uk
Weblink: Bexley property licensing