Council meetings

Agenda item

Council update on HMO licensing in Catford South


HMO Licencing Rhona Brown, Head of Private Sector Housing and Home Improvement, LBL Council.

The presentation delivered to the assembly attendees covered the following key subject areas:

What is an HMO – Homes of multiple occupancy are two or more households, sharing at least one basic amenity (e.g. bathroom or kitchen)


The proportion of HMO properties in the Catford South ward. Ms Brown broke down the statistics of HMOs in lewisham in general and how many are in Catford South comparatively – CS has the 6th highest number of HMOs across the 19 wards. (see presentation for data)


HMO licensing – what is it, and how it can help. Ms Brown talked the audience through some of the mandatory regulations through the housing act of 2010 and gave more detail about how licencing works in Lewisham and their team. In the last year, the introduction of selective licencing which is having a positive impact on the rental sector meaning you can licence any and all private rented housing in a given area. So not just houses multiple occupation -see presentation slides for data.

Benefits of licensing include:

·        Places proactive responsibility on landlords to declare, and ensure properties meet standards

·        Provides income to fund administration and enforcement

·        Allows the council to set out minimum property conditions and management standards

·        Address issues like overcrowding, rubbish in front gardens, broken fences, property safety (including fire safety), and require landlords to take steps to manage antisocial behaviour.


What it doesn’t do:

·        Cover party wall agreements

·        Affect proposed development

·        Addressing alleged ASB directly – this is for landlords, or in serious cases, the police

·        In extreme cases we can and do prohibit properties and revoke licenses


Ms Brown reiterated that Lewisham Council’s top priority is to work with landlords to raise standards in these properties and the reason for that is that the council's overall, overriding priority when it comes to housing is preventing and reducing homelessness and good quality landlords of HMOs can support that goal.

The team are endeavouring to be data led but are still very reliant on people around the borough letting them know if they think they've got an unlicensed HMO next door, or if they think there's a problem with an HMO in the vicinity so welcome you getting in touch. Contact information was given as: 020 8314 6420



Summary of main discussion points. There were comments from the community that they were very please to see the good progress happening from the team in only a year Ms Brown confirmed that the team was currently 8 people strong which is a large expansion and hope to increase the numbers working in this area going forward.


It was confirmed that the council does publish a register of licenced properties.

There is no legal limit to the number of HMOS in an area and licencing can be done retrospectively. Licencing is not the same of planning permission. The licencing team cannot stop HMOs only work within the licensing guidelines, the Article 4 directive is about planning permission.

The Article 4 directive due to come into force across the borough in January 2024 whereby planning permission will be required for HMOs will help the council to see if there are certain areas with a large concentration and decisions can be made accordingly, but it was clarified that good HMOS are a valuable source of low rent accommodation.


It was commented on that HMOs don’t have enough bins, which leads to rubbish issues in areas, the licencing team do not provide bins but if landlords are not taking care of these issues themselves let the team know and they can issue fines.


It was clarified that student accommodation is not an HMO if it is directly managed by the university or FE college.


It was suggested that residents register for planning alerts – which can be done at street level, this will be particularly useful to raise concerns when Article 4 comes into effect.


Concerns around anti-social behaviour, drugs and fly-tipping that happen in HMOs were raised and some particular properties were mentioned but these individual casework issues were discussed offline.

Cllr Royston thanks Rhona and her team for attending the meeting.


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