New additional landlord licensing scheme launched in Lewisham
As part of a drive to improve standards in the private rented sector and clamp down on rogue landlords, Lewisham Council launched an additional landlord licensing scheme on 23 September 2016.
Under the new scheme, all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) located in buildings above commercial premises need to be licensed by the council. This is where council officers say they have found the worst conditions in the private rented sector.
The scheme includes flats and maisonettes above commercial premises that are occupied by three or more people who are not all related and share facilities. It includes flat-shares in purpose built blocks, if there is any commercial use on a lower floor in the building.
Lewisham Council have told London Property Licensing that the scheme also includes so called ‘Section 257 HMOs’ that are above commercial premises i.e. properties converted to self-contained flats where less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied and the property does not comply with the relevant building regulations.
According to the Council, the private rented sector in Lewisham has doubled in size since 2001 and now consists of more than 30,000 units of accommodation, housing 25% of borough residents. Lewisham Council estimate that the scheme will require licensing of around 1,800 properties.
Lewisham Council say that the licensing scheme will ensure that landlords manage their properties well and will help to improve the health and wellbeing of tenants. They also think the scheme will enable them to work better with landlords to ensure their homes are safe and properly managed and will contribute to sustaining the quality of the private rented sector in Lewisham.
Substantial rise in licence application fees
To coincide with the implementation of additional licensing, there has been a step rise in HMO licensing fees.
The previous fee of £180 ‘per unit of accommodation’ has been replaced by a standard fee of £500 ‘per household’. However, the council website makes clear that a group of four friends sharing a property would be classed as four separate households, resulting in an overall application fee of £2,000.
The council website does mention an early bird discount but only for applications submitted by 23 September, so that period has now ended. Discounts are still available for accredited landlords and registered charities.
Further information about property licensing in Lewisham is available at www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/lewisham or by visiting the Council’s website. London Property Licensing can also assist landlords and letting agents with submitting licence applications in the London area and advising on all the rules and regulations. Contact us to request more information.