Landlords with rental homes in the London borough of Newham have been sent notices that they must license all properties.
Mandatory blanket licensing of all rental properties in the borough comes in on January 1.
Newham Council is charging £150 for applications made before the end of this year. Afterwards, the fee for the five-year licence will rise to £500.
Failure to apply for a licence by the end of the year will be an offence, the council is warning, and may lead to a fine of £20,000. The council says that applications must be made by January 1.
Although it will normally be the landlord who is the licence holder, that is not necessarily the case. The licence holder should be ‘the most appropriate person to hold the licence’ and could be the managing agent. Whoever holds the licence is responsible for adhering to its conditions.
Not having a licence will also mean that it will be impossible to use a S.21 procedure to gain possession, and risks having the local authority take over the management of the property.
The authority is the only one (so far) in England and Wales to introduce borough-wide licensing of ALL private rental properties, regardless of their size and whether or not they are HMOs. However, Shelter is urging all other local authorities to follow suit.
The ability to introduce licensing over and above the statutory licensing of certain HMOs is available to local authorities under additional and (in this case) selective licensing powers.
Local authorities are also free to introduce planning regimes whereby landlords must apply for planning permission if they plan to change tenants, for example, from a single family household to a small group of sharers.
It is possible to apply online for a licence from Newham Council, but be aware that the process will take about 40 minutes per property.
Bearing in mind that an estimated 35,000 rental properties in Newham – one in three of all households in the borough – will have to be licensed, this collectively works out to a lot of man hours.
Any managing agent or tenant who has not received a notice from Newham Council should contact the authority on 020 3373 1950 and ask for the Property Licensing Team. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org