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Tsunami of licensing announcements for London’s private rented sector

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

A tsunami of licensing announcements has engulfed London’s private rented sector, adding to the regulatory complexity and challenge facing the lettings industry.

Licensing Consultations

On Monday 28 June, a property licensing consultation ended in the London Borough of Southwark. Their previous licensing schemes ended on 31 December 2021. The council is proposing a new borough wide additional licensing scheme covering all HMOs, plus a selective licensing scheme in two phases. Phase 1 to be focused on five wards and, subject to Secretary of State approval, phase 2 to add another fourteen wards (read here).

In the London Borough of Ealing, the council is consulting on plans to renew their borough wide additional licensing scheme and implement a larger selective licensing scheme in two phases. Phase 1 to be focused on three wards and, subject to Secretary of State approval, phase 2 to add another twelve wards. The consultation is open until 2 August (read here).

In the London Borough of Haringey, the council is consulting on plans for a new selective licensing scheme covering fourteen wards, which will require Secretary of State approval. The consultation is open until 8 August (read here).

In the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, the council is consulting on plans to renew their borough wide additional licensing scheme and implement a smaller replacement selective licensing scheme. Whereas the current selective licensing scheme includes 128 streets, the new scheme would be restricted to just 23 streets. The consultation is open until 10 August (read here).

Further licensing consultations have been completed in Greenwich (selective licensing), Kensington & Chelsea (additional licensing), Lambeth (additional licensing) and Lewisham (additional and selective licensing), with decisions awaited on each of those schemes.

New licensing schemes

A raft of new licensing schemes have also recently been confirmed and will soon come into force.

In the London Borough of Harrow, a new borough wide additional licensing scheme covering all HMOs comes into force on 6 August 2021. Their previous scheme ended on 28 February 2021 (read here).

In the City of Westminster, a borough wide additional licensing scheme covering all HMOs comes into force on 30 August 2021. The scheme will extend licensing to around 9,000 properties (read here).

In the London Borough of Enfield, a selective licensing scheme covering fourteen wards comes into force on 1 September 2021. The scheme will extend licensing to around 23,000 private rented properties. Whilst all applications should be submitted by 1 September, the council’s website indicates no applications will be accepted until 1 August, allowing just one month to apply (read here).
 
Some licensing schemes have ended or are ending soon

In the London Borough of Harrow, a selective licensing scheme in Wealdstone ward ended on 31 May 2021. London Property Licensing understands that a replacement scheme will start in September 2021 (read here).

In the London Borough of Barnet, a borough wide additional licensing scheme ends on 4 July 2021. To date, London Property Licensing is not aware the council have consulted on plans for a replacement scheme (read here).

Richard Tacagni, MD, London Property Licensing commented:

For the lettings industry, property licensing in London really has become a postcode lottery. With over thirty additional and selective licensing schemes already in force and more on the way, the challenge of achieving compliance in the London market is ever increasing.

Failing to apply for the correct licence at the correct time can lead to prosecution or a civil financial penalty of up to £30,000, with the added risk that tenants can reclaim up to 12 months rent.

I think the time has come for a simplified national licensing regime, or at least a simple and consistent licensing scheme for London. Until that happens, the London Property Licensing website will continue sharing information to help landlords and agents achieve compliance."

A free guide containing more detailed information about property licensing and HMO planning rules in every London Borough is available here. Simply click on 'Select Borough' and select the borough you are interested in. 

For all the latest news and events, you can sign up for the free London Property Licensing newsletter here.

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