London Borough of Camden

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Camden 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 Camden is in North London covering an area of 8.4 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Brent to the west, Westminster and City of London to the south, Islington to the east and Barnet and Haringey to the north. According to the 2011 Census, about 32% (1 in 3) of the housing stock was privately rented which is above the London average of 25% (1 in 4).

Do I need a licence to rent out my property?

You do not need a licence if you rent your property to a single family as Camden Council do not operate a selective licensing scheme. However, if you rent out a flat in a converted building, you should check the additional licensing scheme below as some buildings containing flats do need to be licensed.

If you rent your property as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), the answer is a bit more complicated. Camden Council introduced an additional licensing scheme in December 2015 and in December 2020 the scheme was extended for another five years. There is also the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies throughout England.

To help you decide if you need a licence we’ve outlined the two HMO licensing schemes below:

1. Mandatory HMO licensing

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 licensing

The additional licensing scheme came into force on 8 December 2015 and continued for five years. A replacement licensing scheme started on 8 December 2020 and continues for another five years. 

The scheme applies to all HMOs in the London Borough of Camden, so that includes all properties shared by three or more people who are not all related and share facilities. You can view the public notice in the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this webpage.

The council have included ‘section 257 HMOs: certain converted blocks of flats’ in the 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.

The council have simplified things slightly by restricting the licensing of section 257 HMOs to situations where less than half of the flats are owner occupied. This is a complex area of law and you may need further advice. 

How much does a licence cost?

There is a flat rate fee of £1,300 (was £750 in 2019/20, £545 in 2018/19, £495 in 2017/18, £450 in 2016/17) for the HMO (house of flat).

There is a lower fee of £1,130 for licence renewals, provided the application is submitted before the current licence ends.
There is a £100 discount for accredited landlords, so it is worth joining a recognised accreditation scheme.

The fees were last checked in February 2022 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?

Camden Council have an online application and payment system. You can apply by visiting the council’s website where you will also find some useful guidance.

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, Camden Council has adopted HMO standards which all licensed HMOs must comply with and you can download a copy of their HMO standards here.

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

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?

In February 2015, Camden Council told us they had licensed 290 HMOs under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.

In September 2016, that number had dropped slightly to 284, but another 300 properties had been licensed under the additional licensing scheme and 623 were being processed.

In May 2017, the council said that almost 2,000 properties had been licensed or the licence applications were being processed.

In July 2018, the public register showed there were 2,247 licensed HMOs.

In May 2019, the council told us 341 properties had been licensed under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme and 2,620 properties had been licensed under the additional licensing scheme.

In February 2022, the public register listed 458 properties licensed under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme and 3,982 properties licensed under the additional licensing scheme.

Every council must have a public register of licensed HMOs and you can view Camden Council’s register on the council’s website.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

In May 2019, Camden Council told us they think about 400 properties need licensing under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, although the number of licenced HMOs is now higher.

In relation to their additional licensing scheme, the council has estimated there are 7,600 HMOs that need to be licensed.

It seems there are sill thousands of rented properties in Camden that are being operated illegally without a licence. We would strongly encourage any landlords of licensable HMOs to apply now to avoid facing the consequences of 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?

Camden Council told us they took 20 housing prosecutions over the three years from April 2011 to March 2014. They took a further six prosecutions in 2014/15, three prosecutions in 2015/16 and five prosecutions in 2016/17, so an average of almost six housing prosecutions a year. This is well above average when compared to other London Boroughs. They are serious when it comes to enforcement! 

The council obtained one Rent Repayment Order from the landlord of an unlicensed HMO over the six years from April 2011 to March 2017. In 2015, a landlord was ordered to pay the council a Rent Repayment Order of almost £60,000.

Tenants have also been successful in obtaining Rent Repayment Orders. In 2012, a group of tenants were awarded around £10,000, while in February 2017, another group of tenants were awarded over £6,000. This is based on data published by the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

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 751 accredited landlords in Camden, which was the 3rd highest out of all London boroughs.

January 2018: 996 accredited landlords
January 2019: 1,118 accredited landlords
January 2020: 1,282 accredited landlords
January 2021: 1,385 accredited landlords

January 2022 there were 1,693 accredited landlords, which is the fifth highest when compared to all the London boroughs. To find out more about becoming accredited, you can visit the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme website here.

Given that Camden host the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme on behalf of all the boroughs, we would expect them to score highly!

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?

Camden Council consulted on plans for a replacement additional licensing scheme from 16 December 2019 to 8 March 2020 and you can find out more information here.

On 1 July 2020, a replacement additional licensing scheme was approved by the council’s Cabinet and it came into force on 8 December 2020 (read here – agenda item 11).

The council consulted on the previous additional licensing from 4 September to 28 November 2014 (read here).

Following a report to Cabinet on 25 February 2015, Camden Council carried out a second phase of consultation to ensure they fully complied with the Enfield Judicial Review decision. The consultation ran from 23 February to 5 May 2015 (read here). 

On 4 June 2015, the Cabinet Member for Housing and the Deputy Leader met to consider an additional licensing scheme report. They decided to proceed with a borough wide additional licensing scheme covering all HMOs and the scheme came into force on 8 December 2015. 

Clearly, there is a lot happening in Camden so we will monitor the situation closely and keep you posted.

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 small HMOs, the rules are a bit more complicated. HMOs occupied and shared by between three and six people fall into planning use class C4 whereas single-family properties fall into planning use class C3.

In September 2016, we checked with Camden Council and found that there is currently no HMO Article 4 Direction in force, although it is something they are thinking about.

This means that you do not need planning permission for a change of use from a single-family property (use class C3) to a small HMO shared by three to six unrelated residents (use class C4), although the situation could change in the future.

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. 

More information about Article 4 Directions can be found on the council’s website.

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 Sector Housing Team
Camden Council
8th Floor, 5 Pancras Square
Town Hall
Judd Street
London WC1H 9JE

Tel: 020 7974 5969

Camden News

Camden Events

Camden Comment

At a Glance

Licence Overview

No selective licensing in Camden but mandatory HMO and additional licensing schemes apply borough wide.

More Information

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 7974 5969
Weblink: Camden HMO licensing

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