Property Licensing Changes in Tower Hamlets

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Paul Conway
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Property Licensing in Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets currently runs two different property licensing schemes though things are about to change:

  • Mandatory HMO licensing (nationwide licensing scheme)
  • Selective licensing

Tower Hamlets Mandatory HMO Licensing

Any property that is rented out to five or more tenants, from more than one household, sharing facilities will require a Mandatory HMO licence.

On 1st October 2018 the Government omitted the three storey rule, therefore HMOs meeting the above criteria across the UK regardless of the number of storeys require a Mandatory HMO licence. However, to make things slightly more complicated, purpose-built blocks containing three or more self-contained flats are exempt from Mandatory licensing.

If you do not have your Mandatory HMO licence application submit and your property meets this criteria you should submit your Tower Hamlets HMO licence application ASAP.

Tower Hamlets Selective Licensing

Tower Hamlets also run a Selective licensing scheme in the wards of Weavers, Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Banglatown.

This means that all privately rented properties located within these wards will require a Selective licence, regardless of the number of tenants. It applies to properties rented by one or two individuals, a couple or family and any HMOs which do not meet the Mandatory licensing criteria.

This scheme was introduced on the 1st September 2016 and will run for a five year term, ending on 31st August 2021. If you do not have your property licence application in and your property meets this criteria you should submit your application ASAP.

Changes to licensing in Tower Hamlets

As of the 1st April 2019 Tower Hamlets will be running an Additional licensing scheme. This means that all HMOs of three or more people, from more than one household will require an Additional licence. However the pre 2014 wards of Weavers, Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Banglatown (the areas covered by the selective scheme) are exempt from this new Additional licensing scheme. The Tower Hamlets ward maps are available on their website.

As part of the Tower Hamlets Additional licensing scheme the council have included ‘Section 257’ HMOs. In Tower Hamlets the Section 257 applies to converted blocks of flats that meet the following criteria:

  • Have been converted into self-contained flats; and
  • *All of the flats in the building are privately rent; and
  • The conversion did not apply with the relevant Building Regulations in force at that time and still does not comply

*The usual criteria for S257 licensing is that at least two thirds of the flats in the building are privately rented however Tower Hamlets have restricted their S257 scheme to buildings where all of the flats privately rented. 

It is important to note that the individual flats within the converted block may require their own licence in addition to the S257 licence if they are occupied by three or more tenants, from one than one household.

The scheme will run for five years and will end on the 31st March 2024, providing that the council do not decide to implement a replacement scheme. This Additional scheme will run alongside the Mandatory and Selective schemes already currently running in the borough.

The council have estimated that approximately 9,000 properties will meet the new scheme's criteria and will therefore require an Additional licence. All Additional licensing applications must be submitted by 1st April 2019 and failure to do so could result in fines and/or prosecution.

Tower Hamlets HMO standards are available on their website.

Summary

As of the 1st April 2019 Tower Hamlets will be running 3 different property licensing schemes:

1) Tower Hamlets Mandatory licensing - all HMOs of 5+ unrelated tenants, from more than one household, sharing facilities.

2) Tower Hamlets Additional licensing - all HMOs that fall out of the Mandatory HMO licensing criteria (excluding those located in the wards of Weavers, Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Banglatown)

Tower Hamlets S257 licensing - converted blocks of flats that have been converted into self-contained flats, where all of the flats in the building are privately rent and the conversion did not apply with the relevant Building Regulations in force at that time and still does not comply.

3) Tower Hamlets Selective licensing - all privately rented properties located in the wards of Weavers, Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Banglatown.

There are a number of statutory exemptions to licensing schemes, please inquire with HMO Services for more information.

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