London Borough of Harrow

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Harrow 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.

Licensing Requirements

Do I need a licence to rent out my property?

There are currently four licensing schemes operating in Harrow. We will 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

A replacement additional licensing scheme started on 6 August 2021 and continues for five years.

The scheme applies borough wide to all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) that do not already need licensing under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme i.e. any houses or flats occupied by three or more people who are not all members of the same household or family.

The council have included ‘section 257 HMOs’ 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.

This is a quite a complex area of law and you may need further advice on whether your property is a ‘section 257 HMO’.

To find out more, you can read our free guide to additional licensing (here).

3. Selective licence

There are two separate selective licensing schemes covering all other private rented properties within the designated areas, as outlined below. A third scheme recently ended:

Selective licensing scheme 1 – Edgware Ward
On 7 December 2015, Harrow Council introduced a selective licensing scheme in the Edgware ward. This scheme ended on 6 December 2020. A replacement licensing scheme started on 28 April 2021 and continues for five years.

Selective licensing scheme 2 – Wealdstone Ward
A selective licensing scheme came into force in Wealdstone ward on 1 June 2016 and operated for five years until 31 May 2021. A replacement licensing scheme started on 2 September 2021 and continues for five years.

Selective licensing scheme 3 – Roxbourne & Roxeth Wards
A selective licensing scheme came into force in Roxbourne & Roxeth wards on 14 March 2018. The scheme ended on 13 March 2023 and has not been renewed.

Almost every private rented home in these two selective licensing areas needs to be licensed, regardless of whether the property (house or flat) is let to a single household or two unrelated sharers. There are very few exemptions.

This adds another layer of complexity as most landlords won’t be familiar with the ward boundaries and neither will tenants or agents. There is an interactive map where you can check if your property falls within the selective licensing areas.

To find out more, you can read our free guide to selective licensing (here).

If you rent a property to a single household in other parts of the borough, the selective licensing schemes do not apply, although the building may still need licensing if it is a self-contained flat within a ‘Section 257’ HMO.

A copy of the additional and selective scheme designations can be viewed in the ‘More Information’ box of the right hand side of this page.

How much does a licence cost?

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

Mandatory HMO and Additional Licensing

Harrow Council charges a standard HMO licence fee of £1,623 (was £1,475.30 in 2022/23, £1,405 in 2021/22, £1,310 in 2020/21, £1,250 in 2017/18) for new applications and £1,150 (was £1,045.90 in 2022/23, £997 in 2021/22, £930 in 2020/21, £885 in 2017/18) for renewals where there is no material change.

Different rates apply for ‘self-contained properties’ although it is open to interpretation what that is referring to.

The standard additional licensing fee is listed as £1,475.30. However, as the mandatory HMO and additional licensing fees were previously the same, it is unclear whether they have forgotten to update their fees, or whether they now charge different rates.

Selective Licensing

The standard licence application fee is £671 per property (was £610 in 2022/23, £580 in 2021/22, £550 in 2020/21).

Each scheme offers a £75 discount for accredited landlords, which we think is a good idea, although unfortunately it only applies to your first application. After that, you have to pay the full application fee for each subsequent property.

The fees were correct as of August 2023 but could be subject to change in the future. You can view the fees in full on the council’s website. Mandatory HMO licensing fees are published here, additional licensing fees are published here and selective licensing fees are published here.

How do I apply for a licence?

Unfortunately you can’t apply online – it’s a bit old fashioned! Instead, for a mandatory HMO or additional licence you can download an application form from the council’s website complete it by hand and send it back. 

For a selective licence you can download a different application form from 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?

Yes, Harrow Council have published local HMO standards which can be downloaded from the council’s website.

The 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?

By July 2022, the council had licensed 2,609 properties. Of those, 646 were HMOs under the mandatory HMO and additional licensing schemes and 1,963 were properties under the selective licensing schemes.

Harrow Council keeps public registers of all licensed properties that are regularly updated. The HMO register can be viewed here and the selective licensing register can be viewed here. Once you click on the link, you will need to scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

In May 2019, Harrow Council told us they think there could be 1,100 properties that require licensing under the mandatory HMO and additional licensing schemes.

In relation to selective licensing, the Harrow Council told us in June 2016 they think there could be up to 900 licensable properties in Edgware and at least 500 licensable properties in Wealdstone.

It seems there are probably quite a few properties that require licensing but where no applications have yet been submitted.

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?

In London, most boroughs publish information about housing prosecutions and civil financial penalties on the Mayor of London’s ‘Rogue landlord and agent checker’. You can search the database by entering a property address, landlord / agent name or by selecting the relevant borough, available here.

How many accredited landlords are there?

There are landlord accreditation schemes operated by the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) and other organisations.  

Whilst we don’t have any figures for the NRLA scheme, 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 412 accredited landlords in Harrow, which was below average when compared to all the London boroughs.

January 2018: 745 accredited landlords
January 2019: 785 accredited landlords
January 2020: 855 accredited landlords
January 2021: 904 accredited landlords

January 2022: 1,056 accredited landlords

By January 2023 there were 1,209 accredited landlords, which is slightly 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?

On 5 June 2020, the council launched a consultation on plans to renew the selective licensing scheme in Edgware. The consultation was open until 14 August 2020. A report was presented to the Cabinet meeting on 21 January 2021 and a replacement scheme approved wich came into force on 28 April 2021.

On 3 September 2020, the council launched a consultation on plans to renew the borough wide additional licensing scheme. Unfortunately, they didn’t inform us and so we couldn’t inform you. The council reran the additional licensing consultation from 15 January to 26 March 2021. Harrow Council subsequently approved a borough wide additional licensing scheme (read here – agenda item 454) which came into force on 6 August 2021.

On 25 January 2021, the council launched a consultation on plans to renew the selective licensing scheme in Wealdstone. The consultation continued until 5 April 2021. Harrow Council subsequently approved the scheme (read here – agenda item 469) which came into force on 2 September 2021.

We’ve received no information about plans to renew the selective licensing scheme in Roxbourne & Roxeth wards that ended on 13 March 2023.

There is clearly a lot happening at Harrow 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 June 2016, Harrow Council told us there was no HMO Article 4 Direction in force and the council was not actively looking to introduce one at that time.

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 encourage you to contact the Council’s Planning Department (here) or seek independent 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 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: 

Environmental Health Team
Harrow Council
Civic Centre
Station Road

Tel: not available

Latest News


There are currently no licensing consultations we are aware of in the London Borough of Harrow




At a Glance

Licence Overview

In Harrow, mandatory HMO and additional licensing schemes apply borough wide and selective licensing covers part of the borough.

Contacting the Council

Tel: not available
Weblink: Harrow Property licensing