Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Kingston 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.
There is one licensing scheme operating in Kingston upon Thames. There was an additional licensing scheme but that has ended. 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
There was an additional licensing scheme in Kingston upon Thames but that ended on 28 February 2023. The scheme extended licensing to properties that were three or more storeys high and occupied by three or four people
To find out more, you can read our free guide to additional licensing (here).
Kingston Council’s HMO licensing fees vary according to the size of the building.
In a property one or two storeys high, the fee is £200 (was £135 in 2015/16) per room. So that would be £1,000 for a five bed shared house.
In a property three or more storeys high, the fee is £250 (was £240 in 2021/22, £200 in 2015/16) per room. So that would be £1,250 for a five bed shared house.
There is a discount of £100 if the licence holder or designated manager is a member of the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme or another approved scheme. Further discounts are available for licence renewals.
There is an extra £300 fee if the council find you are operating a licensable but unlicensed property – they may also prosecute you, so you need to act quickly!
The fees are correct as of July 2023 but may be subject to change in the future. You can find the fees listed on the council’s website.
You can apply and pay online via the council’s website. Alternatively, you can download an application form to complete by hand.
If you need assistance with your licence application, you can find 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.
Yes, Kingston Council’s HMO Standards can be downloaded from the council’s website.
The HMO 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.
As of March 2016, Kingston Council had licensed 319 HMOs, an increase of 67 over the last twelve months.
In October 2016, the Council announced that 170 properties were licensed under the mandatory HMO scheme and a further 165 properties under the additional licensing scheme, a further increase to 335 properties.
By March 2018, there were 430 licensed HMOs and by May 2019, the number had increased to 611.
By January 2021, the number of licensed HMOs listed in the public register on the council’s website had reduced to 513 and by March 2023 it had further reduced to 430.
The council keeps a public register of all licensed properties which can be viewed on the council’s website.
In March 2015, Kingston Council told us they had no estimate for the number of properties that need licensing under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme. But when the additional licensing scheme was implemented in 2012, they thought the scheme would cover 500 to 1,000 properties.
However, in May 2019, after the mandatory HMO licensing criteria had changed, the council estimated there were 500 properties licensable under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme and a further 100 properties licensable under their additional licensing scheme which has since ended.
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.
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.
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 300 accredited landlords in Kingston upon Thames, which was in the bottom quartile when compared to all London boroughs.
January 2018: 420 accredited landlords
January 2019: 482 accredited landlords
January 2020: 522 accredited landlords
January 2021: 547 accredited landlords
January 2022: 665 accredited landlords
By January 2023 there were 771 accredited landlords, which is second lowest 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!
In January 2023, Kingston Council told us they had no plans to replace the additional licensing scheme which expired on 28 February 2023.
We will monitor the situation closely and keep you posted if anything changes. You can sign up to our free newsletter for all the latest news.
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.
We have previously checked with Kingston Council and found that there is no HMO Article 4 Direction in force.
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. Further information can be found on the council’s website.
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.
There are currently no licensing consultations we are aware of in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
There are currently no new licensing schemes we are aware of that are being introduced in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames