London Borough of Hillingdon

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Hillingdon 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 Hillingdon is in west London covering an area of 42 square miles. This outer London borough is bordered by the boroughs of Harrow, Ealing and Hounslow to the east and adjoins the counties of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire to the west. According to the 2011 Census about 18% of the housing stock was privately rented which is lower than the London average of 25% (1 in 4). 

Do I need a licence to rent out my property?

You do not need a licence if you rent your property to a single family as Hillingdon Council do not operate a selective licensing scheme.

If you rent out your property as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), the answer is a bit more complicated. Hillingdon Council operates the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies throughout England. There was an additional licensing scheme but that has now ended.

To help you decide if you need a licence, we’ve outlined the current and previous HMO licensing schemes below:

1. Mandatory HMO licensing

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 licensing

There was an additional licensing scheme from 9 November 2015 to 8 November 2020, but that scheme has now ended.

The scheme applied to what the council described as the area of the borough south of the A40 but excluding the part of Heathrow Villages ward consisting of the airport itself south of the A4; the parts of Yeading and Townfield wards East of the Hayes By-Pass and the part of North Uxbridge North ward, which is North of the Uxbridge Road and East of Park Road. 

The scheme applied to any property let as a House in Multiple Occupation that met the following criteria:

  • It was within the geographical coverage in the scheme designation; and
  • It was two storeys in height; and
  • It was occupied by five or more people forming two or more households.

Most of the properties covered by the additional licensing scheme will now require a mandatory HMO licence following the widening of the licensing criteria in October 2018.

How much does a licence cost?

The council charge a standard application fee of £1,100 (was £980 in 2020/21) per property for new licence applications. That’s an increase of 10% in the last year.

The fee for licence renewals is also now £1,100 (was £735 in 2020/21) per property. That’s an increase of 50% in the last year.

Both fees are payable in two instalments.

Unfortunately, in September 2015, Hillingdon Council told us that they had withdrawn the discount for accredited landlords, which we think is a shame.

The fees we’ve listed were correct as of September 2021 but could be subject to change in the future. You can view the fees in full on the council’s website.

How do I apply for a licence?

You can apply online for an HMO licence via 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 your 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 Hillingdon 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 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 July 2015, Hillingdon Council said they had licensed 153 HMOs under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme and 362 HMOs under the additional licensing scheme – so 515 properties licensed in total.

By March 2016, the number of licensed properties had risen to 228 HMOs under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme and 613 HMOs under the additional licensing scheme – so 841 properties licensed in total, an increase of 326 in the last 8 months.

In August 2018 we found there were 313 licensed HMOs listed in the public register on the council’s website.

In May 2019, the council told us there were 413 licensed HMOs and a further 103 applications being processed. The figures do seem to fluctuate a lot from year to year.

In November 2020, we found there were just 195 licensed HMOs listed in the public register on the council’s website. This is quite a drop, so we contacted the council to check that the figure is correct. Unfortunately, they never replied.

Hillingdon Council keeps a public register of all licensed properties that is regularly updated. The public register can be viewed on the council’s website and then click on ‘View the HMO register’.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

In relation to mandatory HMO licensing, Hillingdon Council estimated in 2008 there were about 150 licensable properties. In July 2015 they revised that estimate up to 212.

When additional licensing was introduced in 2010, Hillingdon Council expected to license about 519 properties. In July 2015 they revised that estimate up to 577.

In May 2019, the council told us they estimate there are 2,500 licensable HMOs in the borough. This represents a large increase and indicates there could be almost 2,000 HMOs operating illegally without a licence.

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?

Hillingdon Council told us they took five housing prosecutions over the three-year period from April 2011 to March 2014, no prosecutions under the Housing Act 2004 from April 2014 to March 2016 and three housing prosecutions in 2016/17, so they do seem to be stepping up their enforcement action. 

Hillingdon Council did not obtain any Rent Repayment Orders from the landlords of unlicensed HMOs over the six years from April 2011 to March 2017. 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 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 423 accredited landlords in Hillingdon, which was below average when compared to all London boroughs.

By January 2018, there were 467 accredited landlords, by January 2019 there were 486 accredited landlords, by January 2020 there were 539 accredited landlords and by January 2021 there were 587 accredited landlords which is well 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?

The council’s first additional licensing scheme was in force for a five-year period from 8 March 2010 to 7 March 2015. 

On 23 July 2015, a report was presented to the council’s cabinet meeting (read here) recommending renewal of the additional licensing scheme. It said they carried out an online consultation about renewal of the scheme on the council’s website for 10 weeks from 21 April 2015. We are not sure how well publicised it was as we didn’t know anything about it!

According to the council’s report, only 11 people replied to the online consultation, 6 of who were landlords or agents and 5 were residents. This does seem a very low response rate. The council said that the proposal was also discussed at their Landlord Forum in March 2015 and that they wrote to the three main landlord associations, Brunel University, the Police and London Fire Brigade.

The Cabinet meeting approved a new scheme designation that came into force on 9 November 2015. That scheme ended on 8 November 2020 and the council now only operates the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.

We will continue to monitor what’s happening in Hillingdon and will 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 September 2016, we checked with Hillingdon Council who told us there is a HMO Article 4 Direction covering the Brunel and Uxbridge South Council wards. It came into force on 24 March 2013 and it removes the permitted development rights to change a property from a single-family house (use class C3) to an HMO occupied by up to six people (use class C4) without planning permission.

So from that date, even letting your property to three people who are not all related could require planning permission if it is within the Brunel or Uxbridge South Council Wards.

You can download a copy of the Article 4 Direction from the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this page. Planning information is also available on the council’s website although information on the HMO Article 4 seems quite well hidden!

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 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: 

Private Sector Housing Team
Hillingdon Council
Civic Centre
High Street
Middlesex UB8 1UW

Tel:     01895 556 666

Hillingdon News

Hillingdon Events

Hillingdon Comment

At a Glance

Licence Overview

Mandatory HMO licensing applies borough wide. There are no additional or selective licensing schemes.

More Information

Contacting the Council

Tel: 01895 556 666
Weblink: Hillingdon property licensing

Sign up to our London Property Licensing newsletter