Concerns raised over Greenwich Council’s additional licensing consultation

Friday, January 6th, 2023 - London Property Licensing

A public consultation is currently underway on plans for an additional licensing scheme in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

Whilst no press release has been seen, London Property Licensing understands that the consultation started on 9 November 2022 and continues until 18 January 2023.

Current licensing schemes

Greenwich Council currently operate mandatory HMO licensing together with a selective licensing scheme in the east of the borough. The previous borough wide additional licensing scheme ended on 30 September 2022 (read here).

The proposed additional licensing scheme

Few details are known about the proposed additional licensing scheme. An online survey asks respondents if the scheme should be implemented borough wide, so it appears that is the intention.

Scant details have been published about the type of HMOs to be included in the scheme. It simply says additional HMO licensing is a discretionary option that can be used to license smaller HMOs occupied by three or four unrelated people or households.

There is no mention of whether multi-occupied flats in purpose build blocks comprising three or more flats and so-called section 257 HMOs would be included. Both property types fall outside the remit of mandatory HMO licensing and could be occupied by more than four people. Section 257 HMOs can also include long leasehold owner occupied flats within buildings subject to licensing.

No evidence base published

In an unusual development, there is no published evidence base to explain why the licensing scheme is being introduced and demonstrate how the statutory criteria have been met. Whilst it does say the previous scheme was reviewed in 2021, there is no link to a copy of the scheme evaluation.

Richard Tacagni, MD, London Property Licensing commented:

Government guidance makes clear that licensing consultations should be informative, clear and to the point so the proposal is readily understood. Consultations should explain the reasons for the proposed scheme, how it will tackle specific problems and the proposed outcome.

In this case, Greenwich Council’s consultation leaves many questions unanswered. In the absence of any evidence base, we do not know the rationale for proposing this new scheme.

Having not followed government guidance, I sense a high risk of legal challenge. I would encourage the council to pause, take stock and start a new consultation once they have all the essential building blocks in place.

The council’s additional licensing consultation can be viewed here.

A free guide containing more information about property licensing and HMO planning rules in the Royal Borough of Greenwich is available here.

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