News

Hackney landlords given six days to submit applications before new licensing scheme starts

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

New additional and selective licensing schemes are set to be introduced in the London Borough of Hackney on 1 October 2018.

The additional licensing scheme will apply borough wide and includes all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) shared by three or more people who are not all related.

The scheme will also include ‘section 257 HMOs’ which are certain buildings converted into self-contained flats. A licence will be needed if all the flats in a section 257 HMO are privately rented.

The selective licensing scheme will apply in the council wards of Brownswood, Cazenove and Stoke Newington and within those areas, all private rented properties will need to be licensed.

HMO licence application fees on the increase

Whereas Hackney Council previously charged an HMO licence application fee of £150 per household, the new fee is £950 per property with a £75 discount for accredited landlords. This will represent a fee increase for all HMOs with six or fewer occupants, although it is still below the London average.

The selective licence application fee is £500 per property with a £75 discount for accredited landlords. This matches the lowest selective fee currently being charged in London.

The council do not seem to be offering an early bird discount to landlords that apply promptly at the start of the scheme. Early bird discounts are being offered by Bexley and Redbridge Councils that have selective licensing schemes starting the same day.

Only six days to achieve compliance

Whilst Hackney’s new licensing schemes start on 1 October, their online application system has not yet been launched and there is currently no alterative application process advertised on the council’s website.

London Property Licensing understands that an online application system will be launched on 25 September, giving just six days for thousands of applications to be submitted before the scheme comes into force.

From 1 October, landlords who have not applied for a licence could find any section 21 notice of seeking possession is invalid. Any rent paid from that date could also be recovered by the tenants under a Rent Repayment Order up until the date an application is submitted.

It is not known how long the council will allow before starting to enforce the new scheme. On the council’s website it states:

During the early months enforcement, we'll reserve penalties for the most serious cases, to allow landlords and agents time to apply for a licence and get the information and support they need”.

Commenting on the situation, David Smith, Policy Director at the Residential Landlords Association said:

It is for each local authority to decide how to implement licensing in their area. However, where they do so it is incumbent on them to do so properly and in a manner which enables landlords to easily meet the new obligations placed on them.

Giving very short periods of time to make applications is not reasonable and puts an intolerable burden on landlords. Hackney should consider whether it would not be better to delay the introduction of this scheme until they have better prepared their own procedures to manage the licence applications they will receive”.

For more information about the mandatory HMO, additional and selective licensing schemes that operate in Hackney visit www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/hackney

Need help? Several companies that offer a licence application handling service in the London area can be found in our Landlord Suppliers Directory here

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