Local Government London

Hackney Targets All Landlords With Licensing

hackney
India Cocking
Written by India Cocking

The London Borough of Hackney have announced the start of two new licensing consultations for a borough wide Additional HMO Licensing Scheme and a Selective Licensing Scheme in certain areas.  

Selective Licensing was introduced under the Housing Act 2004. The Housing Act 2004 says that before introducing selective licensing to any area local Councils must consult with all affected people, such as tenants, residents, landlords, managing agents, businesses, Police, Fire Service, local Councillors etc. 

Selective Licensing applies to all private rented sector houses that are not licensed under HMO licensing, this includes non licensable HMOs. An area may be designated for selective licensing either (i) if the area is (or is likely to be) an area of low housing demand or (ii) the area is experiencing a significant and persistent problem caused by anti social behaviour that local authorities attribute to private sector landlords failing to take action to combat against unruly tenants. A designation can last up to five years. 

Alongside the licence fees, landlords will also have to declare that they are a fit and proper person to hold a licence and holders of the licence will be required to comply with licensing conditions, some of which are mandatorily imposed by the Housing Act, and local licensing conditions from the council itself. 

Hackney has proposed the wards of Brownswood, Cazenove and Stoke Newington for a Selective scheme. The local authority has designated these wards in particular, as they are “the most affected by poor conditions”. Properties not in these wards will not need to be licensed, unless they are a HMO, and HMOs in these 3 wards will either need an Additional or Mandatory Licence and will not be affected by a Selective designation.   

All houses of multiple occupations (HMOs) which are 3 stories and above, house 5 or more people (not from the same family), and share facilities legally require a Mandatory HMO Licence. The introduction of an Additional Licensing scheme covers the HMO properties that are not covered by this licence. This licence requires a landlord and their property to meet specific standards including whether a landlord is ‘fit and proper’ to be a landlord. 

In addition, there are specific provisions which mean that converted blocks/buildings, (e.g., converted blocks of self contained flats or mixed accommodation where there is a mixture of self-contained and non-self-contained units), can be a HMO. You do not, always need a sharing of washing facilities, kitchen facilities or toilet facilities for there to be a HMO. If there are at least three unrelated people involved, then the property could be a HMO. There are exceptions to these basic guidelines, please contact the council directly to see weather Additional or Mandatory Licensing will affect you. 

The proposed fees for these schemes are as follows;  

Additional licensing – £900 – £1,150  

Selective licensing – £450 – £500 

The borough have only set out an estimated fee structure and have not yet set out a discount scheme for early applications or accredited landlords.  

Within their consultation document, Hackney has set out the licensing conditions landlords will have to comply with. Along with the 23 conditions set out by the Housing Act, the local authority has added 2 conditions for the selective scheme;  

  • Requirement on landlord/agent to obtain tenant references  
  • Requirement on landlord/agent to obtain Energy Performance Certificates  

The RLA will make an official response to this consultation, as we do with all consultations. All our responses can be read here, please feel free to use these responses as a template for your own.  

If you do not want to make a response in letter form, the council have created a questionnaire to gather affected parties’ views, this can be completed here. All responses must be in to the council by 3rd December 2017.

We urge our members to make a response, the more landlords that respond the better represented we are in the council’s decision making process. If you have any questions regarding making a consultation response please get in touch with the Policy and Campaigns Team.  

 The full consultation details can be read here.

 

For more information:

About the author

India Cocking

India Cocking

India is the Local Government Officer for the RLA. Having completed her degree in International Politics at Aberystwyth University, India is currently working on updating and maintaining the Local Authority Network. This is of importance as it strengthens communication and understanding between landlords, local authorities, and the RLA. India is working towards gathering concise and clear data from all 435 local authorities on their licencing, fees, news, events and contact details.

Before joining the RLA India worked at Martin and Co Lettings Agent in her home town of Derby, the Welsh Assembly, and her local MP, alongside helping her parents run the family buy-to-let business.

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