Greenwich Council have relaunched their additional licensing consultation

Tuesday, February 7th, 2023 - Greenwich Council

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

The consultation originally started on 9 November 2022 and was due to run until 18 January 2023. London Property Licensing was unaware of any press release and did not find out about the consultation until late December.

Unfortunately, the consultation page on the council’s website left many questions unanswered. There was no evidence base setting out the reasons for implementing a new scheme and no mention of whether multi-occupied flats in purpose build blocks and so-called section 257 HMOs would be included in the proposed scheme. The proposed geographical coverage of the scheme was also unclear.

In January 2023, responding to concerns raised by London Property Licensing and other stakeholders, a spokesperson from the Royal Borough of Greenwich said:

As a Council, we remain fully committed to ensuring the highest possible standards of housing for all our residents, and in doing so working as closely as possible with both tenants and landlords within the borough.

Following feedback from stakeholders, we have taken the decision to relaunch the current consultation. Over the next few days, we will update our consultation page including any additional information as required.

We will also be taking steps to make sure everyone understands the proposals fully and has a fair chance to respond over the revised consultation period, as well as using additional engagement methods to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

Additional licensing consultation relaunched

Greenwich Council updated and relaunched their additional licensing consultation on 13 January and it will continue until 24 March 2023. Accompanying the online survey is a consultation report and an evaluation of the previous additional licensing scheme that ended on 30 September 2022.

The council have said the new scheme will apply borough wide and they intend to include all multi-occupied flats and section 257 HMOs within scope of the licensing scheme.

The independent evaluation of the council’s previous additional licensing scheme makes uncomfortable reading. Having originally expected to license 5,000 to 8,000 HMOs, the estimated number of properties subject to additional licensing was reduced to 4,179 in 2022. During the five year scheme, only about 700 to 800 properties were licensed.

On average, it took 314 days to approve each HMO licence with the biggest challenge around resourcing. It says the licensing team was never fully resourced and there were several changes in team manager. Inexperienced graduates were employed into technical roles and often left after a year.

A survey of licence holders revealed 71% were dissatisfied with the scheme and almost half were dissatisfied with communication from the council after receiving their licence.

A proper programme of inspecting licensed properties did not commence until year 4 and was described as having an ‘absolutely immense’ backlog. The report suggests only about 379 of the properties had been inspected.

In conclusion, the report concludes the impact of the previous additional licensing scheme was limited as the scheme had reached just a small proportion of the estimated HMOs that should be licensed.

The challenge for the council will be demonstrating they can turn the situation around if the licensing scheme is renewed.

More information about Greenwich Council’s additional licensing consultation and how to take part can be found on the council’s website.

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

For all the latest news and events, you can sign up for the free London Property Licensing newsletter here.