London Borough of Redbridge

If you need help understanding the property licensing rules in Redbridge 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. We can handle the licence application process and give you expert advice and guidance along the way (read here). Once you have read through our guide, if you do need any assistance you can contact us here.  

We also have a Landlord Suppliers Directory (here) to help you find the goods and services you need in the London area, with new suppliers regularly added. 

To help set the scene, the London Borough of Redbridge is in North East London covering an area of 22 square miles. It is bordered by the boroughs of Waltham Forest to the west, Newham to the south, Havering and Barking & Dagenham to the east and with Essex to the north. According to the 2011 Census, about 23% of the housing stock was privately rented which is slightly below the London average of 25% (1 in 4).

Do I need a licence to rent out my property?

There are now four licensing schemes operating in Redbridge and so it is important you study the details carefully. We will try to explain. 

On 13 April 2017 Redbridge Council introduced a borough-wide additional licensing scheme. A selective licensing scheme that covers part of the borough started on 13 July 2017 and a second selective licensing scheme started on 1 October 2018. There is also the mandatory HMO licensing scheme that applies throughout England.

We will try to 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

The additional licensing scheme came into force on 13 April 2017 and continues for five years until 12 April 2022. 

You will need an additional licence if your property is let as a House in Multiple Occupation that does not fall within the remit of the mandatory HMO licensing scheme. So licensing applies to all HMOs in Redbridge. This includes all house and flat-shares occupied by three or more people who are not all related, even if they are on a single tenancy.

The House in Multiple Occupation definition is not straightforward and you will need to study it carefully or seek advice. For example, Redbridge Council have included ‘section 257 HMOs’ within the additional licensing scheme. These are properties that:

  • have been converted into self-contained flats; and
  • less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied; and
  • the conversion did not comply with the relevant Building Regulations in force at that time and still does not comply.

So a building containing both owner-occupied and rented flats may need one licence for the whole building. This is a complex area of law and you may need further advice.

3. Selective Licence

The first selective licensing scheme came into force on 13 July 2017 and continues for five years until 12 July 2022.

You will need a selective licence if your property (house or flat) is let out to a single person, couple or single household and is in the council wards of Clementswood or Valentines. Any HMOs in that area will need licensing under the mandatory HMO or additional licensing schemes. 

The second selective licensing scheme came into force on 1 October 2018 and continues for five years until 30 September 2023.

This second scheme applies if your property (house or flat) is let out to a single person, couple or single household and is within an area broadly defined by the council wards of Goodmayes, Loxford, Snaresbrook, Roding, Newbury, Mayfield, Cranbrook, Seven Kings, Chadwell, Fairlop, Aldborough and Church End. Any HMOs in that area will need licensing under the mandatory HMO or additional licensing schemes. Unfortunately, there is a further complication in that the scheme was based on the ward boundaries that existed at the time the decision was made to implement the scheme. Some of the ward boundaries are now different! 

To be sure if your property is within the selective licensing area, you need to use the interactive map on the council’s website and search for your address.

How much does a licence cost?

Different fees apply depending on the type of licence you are applying for. 

Mandatory HMO licensing

Redbridge Council HMO licence fees vary according to the number of occupants and how many storeys there are in the building.

The standard fee is £800 (was £670 in 2016) for a three storey shared house with five single person lettings. It costs extra if there are more people and/or more storeys in the building. Certain discounts are available, including a 10% discount for accredited landlords.

Additional licensing

The standard fee is £500 for all properties.

Selective licensing

The standard fee is £500 for all properties.

If your property is within the second selective licensing scheme that started on 1 October 2018, the council are offering a 50% discount for all applications submitted up until 31 December 2018.

You can view the latest fees on the council’s website

The fees we have listed were correct as of October 2018 but could be subject to change in the future. 

How do I apply for a licence?

There is an online application process for mandatory HMO, additional and selective licences and you can find out more information on the council’s website

If you need assistance with your licence application, we can help you. We offer a unique hassle-free, one-stop-shop service to handle your licence application from start to finish and all for a fixed fee. As part of the service, we carry out an inspection of your property and provide expert advice on compliance. You can find out more about our licence application handling service here.

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

Are there any standards I need to comply with?

Yes, Redbridge Council have published HMO standards that can be downloaded from the council’s website

The 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 will apply throughout England to HMOs licensed under a mandatory HMO or additional licensing scheme.

How many properties has the Council licensed?

In December 2014, Redbridge Council had licensed 45 HMOs. By December 2015 there were 76 licensed HMOs and by December 2016, that number had increased again to 116, an increase of 40 in the last year. 

The council have only recently started processing additional and selective licence applications so we have no figures for those schemes yet. We will soon be asking how many applications have been received.

The council keeps a public register of licensed properties that is regularly updated and can be viewed on the council’s website.

Are there lots of unlicensed properties still out there?

Yes, with the roll out of new additional and selective licensing schemes, there are likely to be many more properties that need licensing.

The council estimate there are between 6,000 and 10,000 Houses in Multiple Occupation that need licensing plus a further 20,000 private rented homes in the two selective licensing areas.

If you are one of those landlords that needs a licence, it is important that you act now to avoid the consequences.

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. We can help you! (find out more

Does the Council take much housing enforcement action?

Yes, Redbridge Council took nineteen housing prosecutions over the three-year period April 2011 to March 2014, a further ten in 2014/15 and one in 2015/16, so an average of six housing prosecutions a year. We understand they are currently working of a further set of prosecutions. This is well above average when compared to other London Boroughs. They really are serious when it comes to enforcement!

Redbridge Council have obtained one Rent Repayment Order from the landlord of an unlicensed HMO in the five years from April 2011 to March 2016. A First-tier Tribunal approved the Order in July 2014 and the landlord was ordered to repay £6,562.26.  

For all the latest information, you can search for housing prosecutions on the Mayor of London’s ‘Rogue landlord and agent checker’, available here

How many accredited landlords are there?

There are landlord accreditation schemes operated by the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme, the National Landlords Association (NLA) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).  

Whilst we don’t have any figures for the NLA or RLA schemes, 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 575 accredited landlords in Redbridge, which was above average when compared to all the London boroughs.

By January 2018, that figure had increased to 881, which is well above 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?

Not at the moment - there are already four licensing schemes in place!

From 24 November 2014 to 25 February 2015, Redbridge Council consulted on proposals to introduce borough wide selective and additional licensing. This would have extended licensing to almost every private rented property in the borough – over 20,000 properties. The council received over 1,700 responses. 

A property licensing report was then presented to councillors for discussion at the Neighbourhoods and Communities Service Committee Meeting on 3 June 2015. The report was subsequently approved at a Cabinet meeting on 9 June 2015. The council decided to implement borough-wide selective and additional licensing.

Unfortunately for the council, the law had changed and so they needed to get permission from the Secretary of State to implement the borough wide selective licensing scheme. They asked the government for approval but their application was refused in December 2015. The government did not think there was enough evidence to justify a borough wide selective licensing scheme.

In the meantime, Redbridge Council consulted on two further selective licensing scheme proposals from 25 July to 16 October 2016 – one covering just two wards and the other covering an additional 12 wards. 

On 13 December 2016, the council’s Cabinet approved a selective licensing scheme in Clementswood and Valentines wards that came into force on 13 July 2017 and borough wide additional licensing was introduced on 13 April 2017.

On 31 May 2018, the council announced they had been given government approval to introduce a second selective licensing scheme covering another 12 wards, which came into force on 1 October 2018. 

There’s clearly a lot going on at Redbridge so we will monitor the situation closely and keep you posted. For all the latest developments, you can sign-up to our free newsletter.

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 also need planning permission if you a splitting up a property into smaller self-contained units of accommodation. 

For smaller HMOs, the rules are a bit more complicated. HMOs occupied by between three and six people fall into planning use class C4 whereas single-family properties fall into planning use class C3.

In January 2016, we confirmed that Redbridge Council did not have an HMO Article 4 Direction in force, although the situation could change at any time. We checked again in March 2017 and nothing seemed to have changed, although you can check for yourself by visiting the council’s website.

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.

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: 

Property Licensing Team
Redbridge Council
10th Floor rear
Lynton House
255-259 High Road
Ilford IG1 1NY

Tel:      020 8708 4845

Redbridge News

Redbridge Events

Redbridge Comment

At a Glance

Licence Overview

Mandatory HMO and additional licensing applies borough wide. A selective licensing scheme applies to part of the borough and a second selective licensing scheme was introduced on 1 October 2018.

More Information

Contacting the Council

Tel:  020 8708 4845
Weblink: Redbridge property licensing

HMO Services London
Mcdowalls property licencing service
Hackney landlord licensing schemes