HMO licensing FAQs
How long will it take to process my application?
The length of the application process will vary as each case is different. Upon receipt of a valid application, we aim to determine your application for a licence within three months of receipt.
How much will it cost?
HMO licence fees depend on the length of the licence, the number of habitable rooms and whether any discounts may apply. For an average sized property in Kensington and Chelsea, a five-year licence may cost up to £1600.
A discount is applied where the licence holder is accredited with the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LLAS) and/or the applicant has more than two HMO licence applications.
How long is the licence valid for?
Licences can be granted for up to five years. The Council may grant licences for shorter periods in certain circumstances. If your licence period is less than five years, you will be informed in writing why the Council has limited the period.
Can I let my property before receiving the licence?
Yes, as long as you have submitted a valid application you can legally let the property.
Are there conditions attached to the licence?
There will be a number of conditions attached to licences, some of which are mandatory, as required by the Housing Act 2004, and others which are discretionary and decided by the Council. Conditions that apply to all licences are:
- Licence holders must provide an annual gas safety certificate.
- Licence holders must ensure all electrical appliances and furniture are provided in a safe condition.
- Licence holders must ensure that smoke alarms are installed in the HMO and are kept in proper working order and make declarations to this effect to the Council.
- Licence holders will be required to supply to occupiers of the HMO a written statement of terms on which they occupy the house and make declarations to this effect to the Council.
What criteria must an HMO meet for it to be licensed?
Anyone who owns or manages an HMO that must be licensed has to apply to the Council for a licence.
The Council must give a licence if it is satisfied that:
- The HMO is reasonably suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the licence.
- The proposed licence holder is a fit and proper person.
- The proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the licence.
- The proposed manager, if there is one, is a ‘fit and proper person’.
- The proposed management arrangements are satisfactory.
- The person involved in the management of the HMO is competent.
- The financial structures for the management are suitable.
What is meant by ‘reasonably suitable for occupation'?
For an HMO to be reasonable suitable for occupation for a certain number of people, it must adhere to the following standards (these are outlined in the recently drafted Government guidelines):
- Number, type and quality of bathrooms, toilets, washbasins and showers.
- Number, type and quality of food storage, preparation and cooking facilities.
- Suitable fire precautions.
What does a ‘fit and proper person’ mean?
The Council will carry out checks to make sure that the person applying for the licence is a fit and proper person. In deciding whether someone is fit and proper, the Council will consider:
- Any previous convictions relating to violence, sexual offences, drugs and fraud.
- Whether the proposed licence holder has broken any laws relating to housing or landlord and tenant issues.
- Whether the person has been found guilty of unlawful discrimination.
- Whether the person has previously managed HMOs that have broken any approved code of practice.
Does having a single tenancy for sharers exempt me from licensing?
No. There is no legal difference between single and joint tenancies for the purpose of HMO licensing. If there were landlords could evade licensing by the simple expedient of changing the tenancy.
I have rooms under the permitted size, what should I do?
Please submit your application detailing all room sizes. You do not need to take any action until we have assessed your application. There is a statutory minimum bedroom size of 6.51 m² for a single bedroom and 10.21 m² for a double. We have a legal duty to act where statutory bedroom size requirements are breached. Where room sizes fall short of our locally set RBKC Standards, a property inspection will be conducted to determine the overall suitability of the property and relevant occupation limits.
Will I have to evict tenants if my property is unsuitable?
If the property is unsuitable for the number of tenants currently accommodated landlords will be issued a licence stating the number for which it is suitable. If this is more than currently accommodated landlords may keep their existing tenants until the expiry of the current tenancy and regularise the situation by not reletting that room or rooms. No new occupiers should be admitted until occupiers match the number permitted on the licence.
Are there any other penalties?
It is an offence if the landlord or person in control of the property fails to apply for a licence for a licensable property or allows a property to be occupied by more people than are permitted the licence. A fine of up to £20,000 may be imposed. In addition, breaking any of licence conditions can result in fines of up to £5,000 for each offence.
Can a tenant claim back rent on an unlicensed property?
Yes. A tenant living in a property that should have been licensed, but was not, can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal to claim back any rent the have paid during the unlicensed period (up to a limit of 12 months). The Council can also reclaim any housing benefit that has been paid during the time the property was without a licence.