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. We can handle the licence application process and give you expert advice and guidance along the way (read here). Once you have read through our guide, if you need any assistance you can contact us here.  

We also have a Landlord Suppliers Directory (here) to help you find the goods and services you need in the London area, with new suppliers regularly added.

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 operate both an additional licensing scheme and the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies throughout England and Wales.

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

1. Mandatory HMO licensing

You will need an HMO licence if your property:

  • Is three or more storeys high (a storey includes a basement, loft conversion and any storey comprising business premises); and
  • Contains five or more people in two or more households; and
  • Contains shared facilities such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.  

Following a recent government announcement, the mandatory HMO licensing criteria will change on 1 October 2018, bringing thousands more properties within the scope of licensing. The restriction to properties that are three or more storeys in height is being removed.

As such, if your property is occupied by five or more people who are not all related and share facilities, it is highly likely you will need to apply for a licence. It is also important that you submit your application before 1 October 2018 to avoid the risk of enforcement action. You can sign up to our free newsletter for all the latest news.   

2. Additional licensing

On 23 July 2015, the council decided to implement a replacement additional licensing scheme that came into force on 9 November 2015.

The additional licensing scheme applies to what the council describes 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 (see map). 

The scheme applies to any property let as a House in Multiple Occupation that falls outside the remit of the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, but which meets the following criteria:

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

Further information about the additional licensing scheme designation is available on the council's website.

For landlords who have already licensed their properties under the previous scheme, your existing licence remains in force until the expiry date stated on the licence. You will then need to apply for a licence renewal.   

How much does a licence cost?

On 1 April 2015, Hillingdon Council introduced significantly higher HMO licence fees.

The council charge a standard HMO licence fee of £980 per property for both the mandatory HMO licensing and additional licensing schemes. The previous fee was £480, so the application fee has more than doubled.

The fee for licence renewals also increased to £735 per property.

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

The fees we’ve listed were correct as of August 2018, 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 Hillingdon Council’s website.

You will need to upload various supporting documents so make sure you’ve got all your paperwork ready. 

If you need assistance with your licence application, we can help you! We offer a unique hassle-free, one-stop-shop service to handle your licence application from start to finish and all for a fixed fee. As part of the service, we carry out an inspection of your property and provide expert advice on compliance. You can find out more about our licence application handling service here.

You can also find other companies offering a licence application handling service in our Landlord Suppliers Directory (here).

Are there any standards I need to comply with?

Yes, the Hillingdon HMO standards can be downloaded from the council’s website. They have a lot of guidance available to download from the website that you may find useful.

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

The government have announced that new minimum bedroom sizes for licensed HMOs will be introduced on 1 October 2018 – 4.64m2 for a child under 10 years old, 6.51m2 for one person over 10 years old and 10.22m2 for two people over 10 years old. The council will still be able to ask for larger minimum sizes. The standards will 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.

We did try and get updated figures in 2017 but struggled to make sense of the information provided by the council so we were unable to publish an update.

We checked again in August 2018 and found there were 313 licensed HMOs listed in the public register on the council’s website. We think this may just relate to the mandatory HMO licensing scheme although it remains a bit unclear.

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.

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 although they have now exceeded that number in relation to the number of licences granted.

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 although it seems they have now exceeded that number in relation to the number of licences granted.

We did try and get updated figures in 2017 but struggled to make sense of the information provided by the council so we have been unable to publish a further update.

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.

From April 2017 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. We can help you get your property licensed! (find out more

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 have not obtained 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, that figure had increased to 467, 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! As the only organisation dedicated to providing property licensing information across London, it’s a real shame they didn’t tell as we could have helped to promote the consultation amongst landlords and letting agents.

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 has since come into force from 9 November 2015.  

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. More information is also 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 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

No selective licensing in Hillingdon although mandatory HMO licensing applies borough wide and additional licensing applies to part of the borough.

More Information

Contacting the Council

Tel: 01895 556 666
Weblink: Hillingdon property licensing

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