Brent Council’s additional licensing scheme extended until 2025 as consultation starts on new HMO planning restrictions
At a Cabinet meeting on 14 October 2019, Brent Council approved plans for a borough wide additional licensing scheme that will extend licensing to all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) within the borough.
The new scheme will come into force on 1 February 2020 and continue until 31 January 2025. This will replace the existing additional licensing scheme that ends on 31 December 2019
Brent Council say that the decision is needed in order to drive up housing standards in the private rented sector and protect vulnerable tenants from being exploited. According to the council, 37% of properties within the borough are now privately rented.
1,100 replies to consultation questionnaire
The decision followed a consultation that took place over the summer, which showed 80% of respondents in favour of renewing the landlord licensing schemes. The consultation questionnaire attracted 1,110 responses, supplemented by a large landlord event, focus groups and 600 face to face interviews.
When the new scheme starts on 1 February 2020, the application fee will remain at a fixed rate of £840 per property which is below the London average. This means that all small privately rented properties in Brent with three or more people living in them, who are not all related, will need to be licensed.
Approval being sought for new selective licensing schemes
The council have also decided to seek government approval to designate four new selective licensing schemes, which would require landlords to license all private rented homes within the scheme boundary.
The existing selective licensing scheme covering the Harlesden, Willesden Green and Wembley Central wards started on 1 January 2015 and ends on 31 December 2019.
A second scheme covering the Dudden Hill, Kensal Green, Kilburn, Mapesbury and Queen’s Park wards was introduced on 1 June 2018 and continues until 2023.
Under changes introduced in 2015, Brent Council cannot introduce selective licensing covering more than 20% of the borough without obtaining government approval, and there is no time to do so before year end. Indeed, the approval process may be delayed by the forthcoming general election.
The council have said they will apply to the Secretary of State for approval to introduce four new schemes – to renew the scheme covering the Harlesden, Willesden Green and Wembley Central wards and create new selective licensing areas in:
- Queensbury, Fryent and Brondesbury Park
- Barnhill and Welsh Harp
- Northwick Park, Preston, Toyngton, Alperton and Sudbury
If the government approves their request, the new schemes would come into force three months after the scheme designation is made.
HMO Planning restrictions on the horizon
Meanwhile, research by London Property Licensing has uncovered plans for new HMO planning controls throughout the borough. On 21 October 2019, the council made a non-immediate HMO Article 4 Direction.
If implemented, this will require planning permission for all new HMOs including shared houses and flats occupied by three or more unrelated people. There is a consultation underway from 24 October to 5 December 2019 and more information is available on the council’s website.
Subject to final approval, the new HMO planning restrictions are expected to come into force on 1 November 2020.
Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, Brent Council said:
“The safety of the 1/3 Brent residents who rent privately is a priority for us. Landlord licensing enables us to work with landlords across the borough to drive up standards. The majority of landlords in Brent want to do the right thing and our landlord forums are a chance to share good practice.
“I’m delighted that 80% of people who responded to the consultation support renewing our borough-wide scheme for smaller houses of multiple occupation (HMOs). By doing this, and by seeking government approval to extend our selective scheme, we’ll be able to continue to support landlords and hold them to account for the quality of the homes they provide.“
A free guide containing more detailed information about property licensing in the London Borough of Brent is available here.
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