London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Hammersmith & Fulham 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 Hammersmith & Fulham is in West London covering an area of 6 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Ealing and Hounslow to the west, Kensington & Chelsea to the east, Brent to the north and with the River Thames to the south. According to the 2011 Census about 33% (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?

There is quite a high chance you will need a licence to rent out your property in Hammersmith & Fulham although you need to study the arrangements carefully as one of the licensing schemes only applies to part of the borough. We will try to explain.

On 5 June 2017, Hammersmith & Fulham Council introduced a borough wide additional licensing scheme together with a selective licensing scheme that only covers part of the borough. Both schemes operate for five years until 4 June 2022. New licensing schemes will start on 5 June 2022.

There is also the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies across England. In total, there are three separate licensing schemes.

We will try to 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. The scheme applies to all HMOs occupied by three or more people who are not all related.

The House in Multiple Occupation definition is not straightforward and you will need to study it carefully or seek advice. For example, Hammersmith & Fulham Council have included ‘section 257 HMOs’ within the additional licensing scheme. These are properties that:

a) have been converted into self-contained flats; and
b) less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied; and 
c) the conversion did not comply with the relevant Building Regulations in force at that time and still does not comply.

Until 4 June 2022, the scheme covers all section 257 HMOs. However, under the new scheme that starts on 5 June 2022, licensing of section 257 HMOs will be restricted to properties where none of the flats are owner occupied, the building is not owned or managed by two or more of the leasehold owners of individual flats within it (either acting individually or through a management company of which they are directors or officers), and the property is not in a designated selective licensing area.

This is a complex area of law and you may need further advice.

3. Selective Licence

You will need a selective licence if your property (house or flat) is let out to a single person, single household or two unrelated people and is on one of the designated streets.

Until 4 June 2022, there are 128 streets within the selective licensing scheme and you can view the list in full on the council’s website

However, under the new scheme that starts on 5 June 2022, selective licensing will be restricted to 24 streets. This includes 16 streets that were previously subject to licensing and 8 new streets, as listed below:

  • Askew Road
  • Baron's Court Road (new to scheme)
  • Bloemfontein Road
  • Blythe Road (new to scheme)
  • Coningham Road (new to scheme)
  • Crookham Road (new to scheme)
  • Dalling Road
  • Dawes Road
  • Fulham Road
  • Goldhawk Road
  • Greyhound Road (new to scheme)
  • King Street
  • Lime Grove
  • New King's Road
  • North End Road
  • Richmond Way (new to scheme)
  • Shepherd's Bush Road
  • Sinclair Road (new to scheme)
  • Scrubs Lane
  • Talgarth Road
  • Uxbridge Road
  • Wandsworth Bridge Road (new to scheme)
  • Woodstock Grove
  • Wood Lane

If you rent a property to a single household in other parts of the borough, the selective licensing scheme does not apply.

In summary, if you rent out a House in Multiple Occupation in Hammersmith & Fulham, it will need to be licensed. If you rent out any other property, it will need to be licensed if it is in one of the streets that fall within the selective licensing scheme.

You can view the public notices for the additional and selective licensing schemes in the ‘More information’ box on the top right of this page.

How much does a licence cost?

It depends on the type of licence you are applying for.

Mandatory HMO Licence

There is a standard fee of £1,215 (was £1134.39 in 2016) for a 5 bedroom HMO plus £15 for each additional bedroom.

Additional or Selective Licence

There is a flat fee of £555 (was £540 in 2017/18) for a five year licence.

There is a £50 discount if you sign up to their landlord rental charter as part of the application process. They also offer a £80 discount if you are a member of an accredited landlord body such as the NRLA or the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme. However, you can only claim one discount per property so you will save most by becoming accredited.

The fees we’ve listed were correct as of January 2022 but could be subject to change in the future. They can be viewed on the council’s website.

How do I apply for a licence?

There is an online application and payment system on 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?

Hammersmith & Fulham Council updated their HMO standards in April 2020. The standards apply to all HMOs licensed under the mandatory HMO or additional licensing scheme.

You can view the HMO standards on the council’s website.

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

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?

As of March 2015, Hammersmith & Fulham Council told us they had licensed 284 HMOs. By April 2016 the number had increased to 299 and by June 2017 there had been a further increase to 310.

When we checked in August 2018, there were two public registers. One showed that since June 2018, they had approved 12 mandatory HMO licences, 123 additional licences and 154 selective licences. There was also a pre-June 2018 spreadsheet that listed 337 properties.

In May 2019, the council told us they had approved 178 mandatory HMO licences, 725 additional licences and 615 selective licences. 

In January 2021, the council told us they had licensed 545 HMOs under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, 2,640 under the additional licensing scheme and 2,590 under the selective licensing scheme.

The council also told us that all licence applications submitted after 1 January 2021, provided they are complete and the fee has been paid and there is no reason to refuse the licence or impose additional conditions, will be processed to issue a notice of intention within 8 weeks of receipt and to issue the final licence within 12 weeks.

Applications for large HMOs under mandatory HMO licensing may require an inspection before the licence is granted to make sure the HMO is suitable for occupation and to assess whether any additional conditions are required.  If an inspection is necessary, it may take longer than 12 weeks to issue the licence.

While the full register can be viewed at the Council Officers or obtained by emailing and payment of a fee of £54, an extract from the register can be viewed on the council’s website. When you click on the link, you will need to scroll down to the section ‘Register of licences’.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

In May 2019, Hammersmith & Fulham Council told us they think there are about 717 HMOs that need a mandatory HMO licence, 5,859 that need an additional licence and 1,644 that need a selective licence.

While it seems the council have issued more selective licences than expected, they could still be many unlicensed HMOs.

If you are one of those landlords operating without a licence, make sure you apply now to minimise the risks 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?

Hammersmith & Fulham Council told us they took eight housing prosecutions over the four years from April 2011 to March 2015, so on average two prosecutions a year.

According to data published by the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, the council did not obtain any Rent Repayment Orders from the landlords of unlicensed HMOs over the five years from April 2011 to March 2016.

However, in January 2012, the tenants of three properties in Waltham Yard SW6 obtained three Rent Repayment Orders from their landlord after the landlord was prosecuted for managing three licensable by unlicensed HMOs. The tenants were awarded £48,502.23!

For the most up to date 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 344 accredited landlords in Hammersmith and Fulham, which was in the bottom third of all London boroughs.

By January 2018, there were 608 accredited landlords, by January 2019 there were 623 accredited landlords, by January 2020 there were 687 accredited landlords and by January 2021 there were 753 accredited landlords, which is below 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?

Yes, the council consulted on plans for new additional and selective licensing schemes from 10 May to 10 August 2021. You can find out more about the consultation on the council’s website.

A new borough wide additional licensing scheme and a selective licensing scheme covering 24 streets were approved at a Cabinet meeting on 6 December 2021 (read here - agenda item 7). The new schemes will start on 5 June 2022.

Prior to implementing the previous scheme, a report on improving private rented housing was presented to the Council’s Cabinet Meeting on 2 November 2015 (read here - agenda item 90).

The report noted that the borough’s private rented sector had grown rapidly and now accounted for about 27,500 properties. The council say they had concerns about the condition and management of some private rented properties, which was contributing to issues of anti-social behaviour. The council therefore decided to consult on five options:

1. A borough wide additional licensing scheme;
2. A selective licensing scheme covering one fifth of the borough;
3. The development of a new Landlords Rental Charter;
4. Updating the council’s HMO standards; and
5. Setting up a social letting agency.

A formal public consultation exercise on these options took place from 7 July to 30 September 2016.

On 5 December 2016, the council’s cabinet meeting approved the introduction of additional and selective licensing, new HMO standards and a new landlord rental charter (read here) and the licensing schemes started on 5 June 2017.  

There is clearly a lot happening in Hammersmith and Fulham so we will monitor the situation closely. You can sign up to our free newsletter to find out all the latest developments.

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 April 2016, we checked with London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham who told us there is currently no HMO Article 4 Direction in force and they have no plans to consult on one in the foreseeable future. You can view information about Article 4 Directions on the council’s website.

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. 

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, need a legionella or fire risk assessment, or are seeking a Gas Safe registered contractor to service the boiler, we’ve 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
Hammersmith & Fulham Council
1st Floor
Hammersmith Town Hall Extension
King Street
W6 9JU

Tel:     020 8753 1703

Hammersmith & Fulham News

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At a Glance

Licence Overview

Mandatory HMO and additional licensing apply borough wide and there is a selective licensing scheme covering part of the borough.

New additional and selective licensing schemes start on 5 June 2022.

More Information

Contacting the Council

Tel:  020 8753 1703
Weblink: Hammersmith & Fulham HMO licensing

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