Improving private sector housing via licensing - Appendix 1

Extract from H&F Local Plan (February 2018): Policy HO2 Housing Conversion and Retention)

Paragraphs 6.18-21 - page 94

To achieve the council’s housing target of 1,031 more homes each year, it’s important that we not only create new housing, but look after the homes we’ve got.

Smaller terraced houses make ideal family homes, and it’s important to make sure that isn’t reduced because of conversion into flats or larger multiple tenant homes.

A requirement for at least half the proposed units in conversions to be of two or more bedrooms will help retain a mix of units to cater for families. Larger schemes will allow us to increase the number of family-sized homes.

Some areas are less suitable for families, including those near busy roads where there is less green space, in town centres or flats above shops. In these cases, there will be more flexibility, although each will be assessed on its merits.

Read our Local Plan.

Extracts from the draft H&F Housing Strategy 2021

A great home is more than just a roof over your head: It is having a landlord who provides good services in an ethical way, a council which responds supportively in challenging times; it is feeling part of something larger, having access to housing opportunities, and feeling proud of where you live.

Collectively, private landlords provide almost as many homes in Hammersmith and Fulham as social housing. Strong relationships with private landlords are essential to supporting good homes for residents across the borough.

The council takes a risk-based approach to complaints of disrepair and will always give landlords a chance to put things right. Only if the landlord is negligent or doesn’t respond will action be taken, but to protect tenants this must be done promptly.

The council publishes information about minimum housing standards, including space and amenity standards in houses and flats in multiple occupancy (HMOs), and will advise landlords and tenants on request.

During 2021, the council will consult publicly about whether to renew the discretionary licensing schemes for HMOs and selective licensing streets from 2022, including whether amendments should be made to any existing scheme.

The council will use all its powers to deal with a small number of rogue landlords, including fines, setting up a rogue landlords’ database, imposing banning orders and rent repayment orders. It will strictly enforce smoke alarm, carbon monoxide, electrical safety and energy efficiency regulations

  • Raise awareness of housing standards in the private sector and tackle landlords who do not comply with minimum standards
  • Consult about re-designation of discretionary licensing schemes

H&F Economy Department draft HMO Policy

1.1, A leaseholder’s obligations are set out in Schedule 5 of the lease with the LBHF.

1.2, There are two variations of the “user clause”:

1.2.1, Prior to 1991 the term ‘single family occupation only’ was used – not to hold on any part of the Demised Premises any sale by auction nor to use the same or any part thereof nor allow the same to be used for the purposes of any trade business or occupation as defined by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 or for any illegal or immoral purposes but to use the same as a residential flat with appurtenances in single family occupation only.”

1.2.2, After 1991 the term ‘private dwelling house only” is used – not to use the Demised Premises or any part thereof nor allow the same to be used for the purposes of any trade or business or for any illegal or immoral purposes but to use the same as “a private dwelling house only.”

1.3, H&F considers that running an HMO is a breach of both above clauses. LBHF, as the landlord, does not allow their leaseholders to run HMOs from their homes under the terms of its leases with them. The primary reason for this approach is the maintenance of a housing stock suitable for all potential residents. In addition, a leaseholder must seek the consent of LBHF before carrying out alterations to the structure of the property. LBHF will not give consent to alterations that convert the property to an HMO. Any leaseholder who uses their property as an HMO will be in breach of their lease. LBHF may commence legal proceedings to ensure that the leaseholder complies with the terms of the lease and this could lead to LBHF seeking to forfeit the lease.

1.4, Any enquiry made by a leaseholder to PHS for an HMO licence to use the property as an HMO will be shared by PHS with the Property Compliance Team.

1.5, H&F has a statutory obligation under the Housing Act 2004 to either refuse or grant a licence for HMO when a licence is applied for and this may mean that a licence is granted to an LBHF leaseholder. This does not mean that LBHF, as a landlord, consents to the property being licenced as an HMO.

1.6, H&F does not support the use of its properties as HMOs because (but not exclusive to) use as an HMO:

  • Increases the fire risk within the building with risk to occupants, neighbours and property (Housing Fire Safety 2008 (ACFO; CIEH; LACORS)) (and which may require the freeholder to increase the insurance premium);
  • Leads to nuisance or annoyance to other occupants of the building or to any neighbouring adjoining or adjacent property or the owner or occupiers thereof;
  • Results in issues such as refuse, pests, noise, etc due to the increased number of occupants without changes to resources
  • Results in additional costs for operating and maintaining communal services (water, electricity, sewage, lifts, refuse collection etc.);
  • Makes it likely that alterations will be made which may alter the fabric of the property and negatively affect its value to which the council is the freeholder;
  • Introduces additional health and safety hazards to the building, or increases the risk of existing hazards

1.7, H&F is concerned that all circumstances are considered to ensure access to all potential residents to appropriate accommodation. The council will therefore retain discretion on this issue and is willing to consider and/or assess each application to become an HMO on a case by case basis. These considerations will include (but are not exclusive to):

  • Potential homelessness
  • Impact of benefit policies on specific groups
  • Changing demographics in the borough
  • Other council policies affecting current and future residents, for example, plans by children’s services for future housing/care provision.

1.7.1, In exerting this discretion, the council will require the potential HMO to be properly licensed.

1.7.2, Where discretion may be desired, the council is also mindful that some properties will not be suitable as an HMO, for example, for health and safety reasons, unreasonable sharing of facilities.

1.7.3, In order to avoid tenants being evicted or incurring hardship, the council already, where required, provides waivers under strict conditions. This policy merely extends the council’s ability to exert discretion on this issue.  Where tenants are already in occupation at the time an application is made for an HMO licence for a leasehold property, PHS have discretion to grant a licence for a reduced term of two years, with an additional condition as follows:

Where the Council of London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham is the freeholder of the property, the leaseholder must, before the expiry date of the licence which is 2 years from the date the licence is granted, either seek and obtain from the freeholder a waiver to the policy which prohibits use of the dwelling for the purpose for which the licence is granted, or cease to use the dwelling for that purpose.

Waivers to the policy are at the sole discretion of the council and may be refused. 

Grant of an HMO licence does not imply that the council will grant any other consent or permission for example for alterations which require the consent of the freeholder.  Where any alterations have been undertaken or are proposed which require landlord’s consent, an application for consent (or retrospective consent) must be completed and permission for the alterations obtained by the leaseholder using the application forms on the council’s website at

Consent for alterations is at the sole discretion of the council, and may be refused, in which case the leaseholder may be required to reinstate the property to its original condition through enforcement of the leasehold terms.”

This ensures that short-hold tenants or licensees are not unnecessarily evicted before their tenancy or licence ends; that leaseholders have time to negotiate a waiver or end the HMO use, whilst not being vulnerable to enforcement action for managing an HMO without a licence and to claims from tenants for example for rent repayment orders.

1.8, Where a property sub-let by a leaseholder requires a licence under one of the council’s discretionary licensing schemes (“Selective Licensing” under Part 3 Housing Act 2004), PHS will add an additional condition to the licence prohibiting use as an HMO (subject to decision about designation of an area for a new discretionary licensing scheme from June 2022)

1.9, If the leaseholder does not have permission from LBHF to carry out alterations to convert the property to an HMO, the leaseholder may be required to return the property to its original state. If it is necessary for the council to carry out work to repair the property/bring it back to its original state, it shall recharge the leaseholder for such work in accordance with its Chargeable Services Policy.

1.10, The Chargeable Services Policy was approved by Cabinet in January 2018 and states that the full costs incurred by the council (materials, rectification, staff time, administration, etc) will be sought.


Improving private sector housing via licensing homepage

Appendix 1 - Links to strategic plans

Appendix 2 - Summary of survey of current licence holder landlords

Appendix 3 - Streets proposed to remove from new designated scheme

Appendix 4 - Streets it’s proposed to include in the new designated scheme

Appendix 5 - Council as freeholder

Appendix 6 - Percentage of households included in the proposed new designated scheme

Appendix 7 - Index of Multiple Deprivation about level of need in designated streets

Translate this website