London Borough of Havering

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Havering 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 Havering is in East London covering an area of 43 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Redbridge and Barking & Dagenham to the west, Essex to the north and east and with the River Thames to the south. According to the 2011 Census about 11% (1 in 9) of the housing stock was privately rented which is significantly lower than the London average of 25% (1 in 4).

Do I need a licence to rent out my property?

There is a high chance you will need a licence to rent out your property in Havering although you need to study the arrangements carefully as some licensing schemes only apply to part of the borough. We will try to explain.

On 1 March 2018, Havering Council implemented an additional licensing scheme covering part of the borough. The scheme continues for five years until 28 February 2023.

Meanwhile, new additional and selective licensing schemes covering part of the borough started on 25 January 2021 and will continue for five years until 24 January 2026.

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

To help you choose the right licence for your property, we have described each of the licensing schemes below.

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

In Havering, there are two separate additional licensing schemes.

Additional licensing scheme – 2018 Designation

The first additional licensing scheme came into force on 1 March 2018 and continues until 28 February 2023, unless the council decide to implement a replacement scheme.

It applies to all HMOs in the council wards of Brooklands, Elm Park, Gooshays, Harold Wood, Havering Park, Heaton, Mawneys, Pettits, Rainham & Wennington, Romford Town, South Hornchurch and Squirrels Heath.

It includes all HMOs occupied three or more people. You can view the scheme designation in the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this webpage.

The Council have included ‘section 257 HMOs: certain converted blocks of flats’ 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.

So, a building containing both owner-occupied and rented flats may need one licence for the whole building. This is a complex area of law and you may need further advice.

Additional licensing scheme – 2021 Designation

The second additional licensing scheme came into force on 25 January 2021 and continues until 24 January 2026, unless the council decide to implement a replacement scheme.

It applies to all HMOs in the council wards of Cranham, Emerson Park, Hacton, Hylands, Saint Andrews and Upminster.

It includes all HMOs occupied by three or more people. You can view the scheme designation in the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this webpage.

The Council have also included all ‘section 257 HMOs: certain converted blocks of flats’ in this scheme.

3. Selective licence

The selective licensing scheme came into force on 25 January 2021 and continues until 24 January 2026, unless the council decide to implement a replacement scheme.

It applies to all private rented properties in the council wards of Brooklands and Romford Town. In that area, all private rented properties need to be licensed. You can view the scheme designation in the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this webpage.

If you are unsure which council ward your property is in, you can use the postcode search facility on the council’s website.

How much does a licence cost?

Different application fees apply depending on whether you are applying for a mandatory HMO, additional or selective licence.

Mandatory HMO licence

Havering Council charge a standard licence application fee of £1,115 (was £1,081.25 in 2017/18 and £1,060 in 2016/17) for an HMO with up to five letting. The fee increases to up £1,788 if there are 20 or more lettings.

There is no longer a discount for accredited landlords which we think is a shame. The council told us it was withdrawn in April 2016.

Additional licence

There is a standard application fee of £900 per property, with a £35 discount for accredited landlords.The fee is paid in two instalments. 

Selective licence

There is a standard application fee of £900 per property, with a £35 discount for accredited landlords. The fee is paid in two instalments. 

A £450 discount was being offered for all selective licence application submitted by 24 January 2021, but that period has now ended.

The fees are correct as of January 2021 and can be viewed in full on the council’s website

How do I apply for a licence?

The council have a fully integrated online application system. You can apply by visiting the council's website and clicking on the yellow 'Apply for a licence' button.

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, the council’s HMO standards 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, ventilation and room sizes.

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, Havering Council told us they had licensed 31 HMOs.

When we checked in October 2018, we found the public register listed 55 properties licensed under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme and 64 properties licensed under the additional licensing scheme.

In May 2019, the council told us they had approved 106 mandatory HMO licences and 139 additional HMO licences.

In December 2020, we checked the public register and found it listed 133 mandatory HMO licences and 143 additional licences.

Havering Council keeps a public register of licensed HMOs which you can view on the council’s website.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

In May 2019, the council told us they estimate 786 properties need to be licensed under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme and a further 416 properties under their 2018 additional licensing scheme.

The new 2021 additional and selective licensing schemes could extend licensing to another 5,000 plus properties This does suggest there are many licensable but unlicensed properties in the borough.

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?

Havering Council told us they did not take any housing prosecutions over the five years from April 2011 to March 2016, which put them at the bottom of the housing enforcement league table when compared to all London Boroughs.

Havering Council did not obtain any Rent Repayment Orders from the landlords of unlicensed HMOs over the five years from April 2011 to March 2016. This is based on data published by the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary. 

For all the latest 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 three approved 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 283 accredited landlords in Havering, which was the 3rd lowest out of all London boroughs.

By January 2018, there were 499 accredited landlords, by January 2019 there were 566 accredited landlords, by January 2020 there were 595 accredited landlords and by January 2021 there were 640 accredited landlords, which is in the bottom third 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?

In 2019 the council consulted on proposals to extend property licensing in the borough. Their plans include extending the additional licensing scheme and introducing a selective licensing scheme covering all private rented properties in Romford Town and Brooklands wards.

The consultation took place from 26 June to 20 September 2019 and you can find out more information on the council’s website.

New licensing schemes were approved at the council’s Cabinet meeting on 14 October 2020 (read here) and came into force on 25 January 2021.

Existing licensing schemes

Havering Council already had one additional licensing scheme that came into force on 1 March 2018.

On 18 January 2017, the council’s cabinet meeting approved a 4-week informal licensing consultation as a listening and engagement exercise which took place from 20 January to 17 February 2017.

This was followed by a formal licensing consultation that took place from 19 May  to 28 July 2017. The council dropped their plans for selective licensing and restricted the consultation to additional licensing, with two proposals covering either 4 wards or 12 wards.

After reflecting on the feedback, the council approved an additional licensing scheme covering 12 wards at their Cabinet meeting on 11 October 2017 (read here).

There is clearly a lot happening in Havering so we will monitor the situation closely and will keep you posted. Sign up to our free newsletter for all the latest news.

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 also need planning permission if you a splitting up a property into smaller self-contained units of accommodation. 

For smaller HMOs, the rules are more complicated. HMOs occupied by up to six people fall into planning use class C4 whereas single-family properties fall into planning use class C3.

On 13 July 2015, Havering Council made two Article 4 Directions that remove the permitted development rights to change a property from use class C3 to use class C4 without planning permission. If you want more information, we have published a short guide to HMO Article 4 Directions that you can read here.

To make matters more complicated, different rules apply in different parts of the borough. We will try and explain.

HMO Article 4 Direction No. 1
This Article 4 Direction applies in the council wards of Brooklands, Romford Town, Heaton and Gooshays. You can download a copy of the Article 4 Direction from the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this page.  

In these wards, planning permission is required to change the use from a single-family property (C3) to an HMO with up to six occupants (class C4). So even letting your property to three people who are not all related could require planning permission.

HMO Article 4 Direction No. 2
This Article 4 Direction applies to the whole of the borough, excluding the council wards of Brooklands, Romford Town, Heaton and Gooshays. You can download a copy of the Article 4 Direction from the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this page.  

In these wards, planning permission is required to change a self-contained flat, a terraced house or a semi-detached house from a single-family property (C3) to an HMO with up to six occupants (class C4). The only difference is that this Article 4 Direction does not apply to detached houses, where permitted development from use class C3 to C4 will remain.

When did the Article 4 Directions come into force?
Havering Council consulted on these Article 4 Directions from 13 July to 31 August 2015 and after considering all the consultation responses, the Article 4 Directions were confirmed on 3 November 2015. 

The two Article 4 Directions came into force on 13 July 2016. The changes are not retrospective, so any properties changed from a single-family property (class C3) to an HMO with up to six occupants (class C4) before that date are not affected.

More information about the Article 4 Directions is available on the Council’s website.

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 if you need advice on how this impacts on your property portfolio.

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’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
Havering Council
Town Hall
Main Road
Romford
RM1 3DR

Email: landlordlicensing@havering.gov.uk
Tel:     01708 432006
Website: www.havering.gov.uk

 

Havering News

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At a Glance

Licence Overview

Mandatory HMO licensing scheme applies borough wide. There are two additional licensing schemes and a selective licensing scheme that applies to part of the borough. Two of the schemes started on 25 January 2021.

More Information

Contacting the Council

For HMO licensing:
Tel: 01708 432006
Email: landlordlicensing@havering.gov.uk
Weblink: Havering property licensing

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