New licensing schemes for Ealing’s private landlords

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016 - Ealing Council

Ealing Council has announced plans to introduce two new property licensing schemes in the new year to help improve standards in the borough’s private rented sector.

This will make it a legal requirement for landlords to obtain a licence to operate certain houses in multiple occupation (HMO) anywhere in Ealing, with licensing extended to all private rented homes in five wards of the borough.

Following a public consultation earlier this year, the new additional and selective licensing schemes will both come into force for a five-year period from 1 January 2017.

A HMO is a house or flat occupied by more than one household (not related or living as a couple) who rent the property and share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet. At the moment only certain larger HMOs in Ealing are covered by the existing mandatory licensing scheme.

The new additional licensing scheme will apply to all HMOs that are two storeys or more and occupied by four or more people but not covered by the mandatory scheme. The scheme will also apply to all HMOs in buildings with mixed commercial and residential use, plus certain so-called section 257 HMOs, which are buildings converted into self-contained flats.

In addition, the new selective licensing will apply to all privately rented homes in Acton Central, East Acton, South Acton, Southall Green and Southall Broadway wards where the council believes this type of licensing will deliver the most benefits to the community.

To obtain a licence for five years, landlords or managing agents will be required to pay a licence fee for each rented property in the designated schemes. The additional licensing fee is £1,100 for each HMO plus £30 for each habitable room and the selective licensing fee is £500.

Applicants who sign up between 1 October and 31 December 2016 may be eligible to receive a 25% early bird discount and save themselves hundreds of pounds, while landlords and letting agents that belong to a London Rental Standard approved accreditation scheme will benefit from a further discount of £75.

Once the scheme is in force, failure to obtain a licence can result in a criminal prosecution and an unlimited fine.

Ealing is one of the largest boroughs in London with more than 137,000 residential properties. Of these, around 36,000 are rented from private landlords. Census figures for 2011 showed that private renting increased by nearly 70% over ten years from 2001.

Under the new proposals a licensed landlord will also have to comply with several conditions relating to the management and condition of the property, including gas, electrical, fire safety and other facilities provided. A written tenancy agreement would be required and landlords would be expected to take reasonable steps to address any issues of anti-social behaviour caused by the tenants.

Councillor Ranjit Dheer, cabinet member for community services and safety, said:

The introduction of the additional and selective licensing schemes in Ealing will significantly reduce the number of complaints associated with private rented properties while allowing us to better protect the health, safety and welfare of tenants.

Underlying our plans to expand our licensing schemes is the serious issue of poorly managed properties which lead to sub-standard living conditions and anti-social behaviour. By providing clear standards under which landlords will operate and tenants will know what to expect, we want to encourage stable, long-term tenancies that will then go on to create sustainable communities.

All our residents deserve decent, safe homes to live in, and we are determined to drive up standards in the borough’s private rented sector. The new licensing schemes will give us the opportunity to achieve this and robustly tackle unscrupulous landlords.

The licence term will be up to five years and the schemes will be reviewed annually.

For further information about the property licensing schemes, visit Landlords and letting agents seeking independent expert advice and support can contact London Property Licensing to discuss your requirements.