London Borough of Brent

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Brent 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 are currently four licensing schemes operating in Brent. 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).   

2. Additional licence

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. Licensing applies to all HMOs in Brent.

The additional licensing scheme came into force on 1 February 2020 and continues for five years until 31 January 2025. You can find a copy of the scheme designation in the ‘At a Glance’ box on the top right of the page.

The House in Multiple Occupation definition is not straightforward and you need to study it carefully. For example, Brent 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.

To find out more, you can read our free guide to additional licensing (here).

3. Selective Licence

There are two selective licensing schemes.

A selective licensing scheme covering the council wards of Dollis Hill, Willesden Green and Harlesden & Kensal Green started on 1 August 2023. In this area, a selective licence is required for all private rented properties occupied by a single household or two unrelated sharers.

A second selective licensing scheme covering the council wards of Alperton, Barnhill, Brondesbury Park, Cricklewood & Mapesbury, Kenton, Kilburn, Kingsbury, Northwick Park, Preston, Queens Park, Queensbury, Roundwood, Stonebridge, Sudbury, Tokyngton, Welsh Harp, Wembley Central and Wembley Hill started on 1 April 2024. In this area, a selective licence is required for all private rented properties occupied by a single household or two unrelated sharers. 

You can find a copy of both scheme designations in the ‘At a Glance’ box on the top right of the page.

This adds another layer of complexity as most landlords won’t be familiar with the ward boundaries and neither will tenants or agents. There is a postcode search facility on the council’s website.

To find out more, you can read our free guide to selective licensing (here).

How much does a licence cost?

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

Mandatory HMO Licence

Brent Council charge a standard fee of £840 for a shared house with up to five habitable rooms (i.e. bedroom, living or dining room). Each extra habitable room costs an extra £25. For renewals it is £740.

Additional Licence

Brent Council charge a fixed fee of £840. For renewals it is £740.

Selective Licence

Brent Council charge a fixed fee of £640 per property for a five-year licence. For renewals it is £600.

There is an extra fee of £100 if you need help completing the forms.

There is a £40 discount for accredited landlords. 

The fees we have listed were correct as of April 2024 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?

Brent Council has an online application system for mandatory HMO, additional and selective licensing. You can apply by visiting 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?

Brent Council’s HMO standards can be downloaded from the council’s website (you will need to click on the ‘Download our guide to licensing’ on the right side of the 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 licensed under the mandatory HMO and additional licensing schemes. They don’t apply to 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?

In May 2019, Brent Council told us they had licensed 11,550 properties (1,114 mandatory HMO licences, 2,296 additional licences and 8,140 selective licences).

Brent Council keeps a public register of all licensed properties which can be viewed on the council’s website.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

With a new selective licensing scheme starting in April 2024, there will be many landlords who need to get their properties licensed. If you are a landlord or letting agent operating in Brent, make sure you get your properties licensed before the council comes knocking on your door and considers enforcement action.

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 685 accredited landlords in Brent, which was the 4th highest out of all London boroughs.

January 2018: 857 accredited landlords
January 2019: 976 accredited landlords
January 2020: 1,099 accredited landlords
January 2021: 1,193 accredited landlords
January 2022: 1,796 accredited landlords
January 2023: 1,932 accredited landlords

By January 2024, there were 2,086 accredited landlords which is 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?

Brent Council consulted on plans for a new selective licensing scheme from 31 October 2022 to 23 January 2023. You can find out more about the consultation by visiting the council’s website.

On 17 April 2023, Brent Council’s Cabinet approved a new selective licensing scheme (read here – see agenda item 9) covering the council wards of Dollis Hill, Willesden Green and Harlesden & Kensal Green which came into force on 1 August 2023

Later in the year, the Secretary of State approved plans for a much larger selective licensing scheme covering eighteen wards and that scheme started on 1 April 2024.

To keep up to date with all the latest changes, 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 14 October 2021, Brent Council made a non-immediate HMO Article 4 Direction which applies borough wide except for the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation Area, the draft Local Plan’s site allocations within the Church End Growth Area, and all parts of the other seven Growth Areas.

The Direction came into force on 1 November 2022. From that date planning permission is required to change any property from a single-family home (C3) to an HMO with up to six occupants (class C4) within the designated area. So even letting your property to three people who are not all related could require planning permission. You can 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 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
Brent Council
Brent Civic Centre
Engineers Way
Wembley
HA9 0FJ

Email: prslicensing@brent.gov.uk
Tel: 020 8937 2384
Website: www.brent.gov.uk

Latest News

Consultations

There are currently no licensing consultations we are aware of in the London Borough of Brent

Schemes

Events

Opinion

At a Glance

Licence Overview

In Brent, mandatory HMO and additional licensing schemes apply borough wide and selective licensing schemes apply to most of the borough. A new selective licensing scheme started on 1 April

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 8937 2384
Email: prslicensing@brent.gov.uk
Weblink: Brent property licensing