Property licensing consultation underway in Hammersmith and Fulham
Hammersmith & Fulham Council has launched a public consultation on plans for new property licensing schemes.
Since 5 June 2017, the council has operated a borough wide additional licensing scheme plus a selective licensing scheme covering part of the borough. The current schemes end on 4 June 2022.
The existing additional licensing scheme includes all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) throughout the borough.
The existing selective licensing scheme extends licensing to all other private rented properties in 128 designated streets spread across the borough, designed to reduce problems of anti-social behaviour.
Since the schemes were implemented, the council say they have granted 2,900 selective licences and 2,800 additional licences, and half of licence holders have joined a recognised landlord association or signed up to their landlord rental charter.
The council say they have inspected 170 properties licensed under the additional licensing scheme. They say it was never their intention to inspect all the properties, as they say landlords are expected to stick to minimum standards. It is unclear how many selectively licensed properties have been inspected.
Proposed additional licensing scheme
Within the consultation documents, London Property Licensing could find no clear statement explaining what the new scheme designation would cover. For example, whether it would be identical to the previous scheme in geographical coverage and HMO property-types.
The online questionnaire simply asks: “Should the council extend the additional HMO licensing scheme for five years from June 2022?“
We understand the council does propose to draft the scheme designation in similar terms to the existing one.
Proposed selective licensing scheme
From reviewing the consultation documents, it is not easy to establish what selective licensing scheme is being proposed.
In relation to the 128 streets covered by the existing selective licensing scheme, the council say no licence applications have been received in 10 streets and less than 5 applications have been received in another 54 streets. This calls into question whether private rented properties really were causing the reported issues in these areas.
The council acknowledge licensing is unlikely to make a significant difference in these streets and proposes removing some streets from the new scheme. It is assumed this refers to removing streets just from selective licensing and not also from additional licensing.
The council’s website directs readers to Appendix 3 which contains a much longer list of 112 streets to be removed from the proposed designation. Two of the streets are said to contain 100+ private rented properties (here).
The council’s website then directs readers to Appendix 4 which lists 23 streets to be included in a proposed designation (here). Some of these streets are already covered by selective licensing whereas some are not. It says these streets account for 19.2% of all antisocial behaviour in the borough, although we could not find the evidence base.
The council’s website also says that purpose-built flats will be included in the selective licensing scheme, but not if letting to the leaseholder’s close family or friends who aren’t charged rent. This wording seems to differ from the statutory exemptions.
The online questionnaire simply asks: “Do you agree that the council should renew its selective licensing scheme for five more years, from June 2022?“
London Property Licensing believes this is referring to the refined list of just 23 streets, although it is not clear.
Fees and Conditions
There was no apparent information in the consultation about licensing fees and proposed licence conditions.
You can find out more information and take part in the consultation on the council’s website which is taking place from 10 May to 10 August 2021. The consultation form asks one question about each scheme and has one free text box for general comments, so it shouldn’t take long to complete.
A free guide containing more detailed information about property licensing and HMO planning rules in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham is available here.
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