Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Kensington & Chelsea 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 two licensing scheme operating in Kensington & Chelsea. 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 borough wide additional licensing scheme came into force on 1 June 2023 and continues for five years until 31 May 2028.

The scheme applies to most HMOs in the borough. It extends licensing to all properties shared by three or more people who are not all related and share facilities. You can view the scheme designation in the ‘More Information’ box on the right of this webpage.

The council have simplified thinks slightly by excluding ‘section 257 HMOs’ from the 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.

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

How much does a licence cost?

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

Mandatory HMO licence

The council’s website says a five-year HMO licence for an average sized property in Kensington and Chelsea may cost up to £1,600.

Additional licence

There is a fixed fee of £1,290 per property which is payable in two instalments.

There is a £200 discount for accredited landlords, or if the landlord employs a managing agent who is safeagent or Propertymark approved and holds a Level 3 Award in Residential Letting and Property Management.  

Further discounts apply to landlords or agents who submit more than three HMO licence applications.

This information is correct as of August 2023 but could be subject to change in the future. You can check by visiting the council’s website.

How do I apply for a licence?

The council have an online licence application system which can be accessed via the council’s website. They started to accept additional licensing application process on 1 May 2023.

We offer a licence application handling service in Kensington & Chelsea and you can find further information here. Simply complete the online enquiry form to get the process underway.

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

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, Kensington & Chelsea Council have produced a lot of guidance explaining the HMO standards that apply in different types of property. They are available to download from the council’s website.

The HMO 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?

When we last checked in June 2022, the public register listed 153 licensed HMOs.

The council keeps a public register of licensed HMOs that is regularly updated and can be searched online.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

In May 2023, the council told us they estimate there will be 3,594 HMOs licensable under the mandatory HMO and the additional licensing schemes.

If you operate a licensable but unlicensed property, it is important you submit a licence application as soon as possible to ensure 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?

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 390 accredited landlords in Kensington and Chelsea, which was below average when compared to all London boroughs.

January 2018: 463 accredited landlords
January 2019: 493 accredited landlords
January 2020: 564 accredited landlords
January 2021: 613 accredited landlords
January 2022: 764 accredited landlords

By January 2023 there were 1,048 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?

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea consulted on plans to implement a borough wide additional licensing scheme between 29 March and 20 June 2021. You can find out more information on the council’s website.

The new scheme was designated on 20 October 2022 and came into force on 1 June 2023. You can sign up to our free newsletter to receive 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 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 August 2016, we checked with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea who told us there is currently no HMO Article 4 Direction in force and no current plans to introduce one.

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. You can find further information on the council’s website.

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: 

HMO Licensing Team
Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea
Council Offices
37 Pembroke Road
London W8 6PW

Tel: 020 7361 3001

Latest News


There are currently no licensing consultations we are aware of in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea




At a Glance

Licence Overview

In Kensington & Chelsea, the mandatory HMO licensing scheme applies borough wide and an additional licensing scheme started on 1 June 2023. There is no selective licensing scheme.

Contacting the Council

Tel: 020 7361 3001
Weblink: Kensington & Chelsea HMO licensing