New legal requirement for rented homes in Waltham Forest

From the 16th June Waltham Forest will be designated as a Private Rented Property Licence Area and the Licensing fee is going to double to £500. Save 50% and spend only £250.

With only a matter of days until the fees double, feel free to get in touch so we can talk you through these changes and assist you with your application. For professional help with this process and to make sure that you adhere to the rules and regulations, please call or visit the office...

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Private Rented Property Licensing (previously known as Selective Licensing)?

Private Rented Property Licensing (PRPL) is a scheme run by the Council to ensure that all private rented property is licensed.

Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004 provides the Council with the power to licence private rented property in a designated area, in this case the whole of Waltham Forest.

This power is primarily intended to address the impact that rogue landlords and their anti-social tenants can have on a wider community.

Is it mandatory to hold a PRPL?

All applicable privately rented properties within Waltham Forest will need to hold a valid licence, with the exception of valid exemptions.

How many properties are likely to require licensing?

All applicable properties that are privately rented in the Borough need a licence. This is estimated at around 26,000.

How will the Council know which properties in the borough need to have a licence?

  • Properties that are applicable for the PRPL scheme will be identified using a range of sources, including:
  • licensed properties database
  • tenant or landlord queries, complaints and reports
  • neighbour and community queries, complaints and reports 
  • referrals from Council services, including; Education/Health/Police/Housing standards/Community Safety/Planning
  • referrals from Ascham Homes (Housing Solutions/Neighbourhood Services)
  • PRPL team investigations including reviews of Council Tax and Housing Benefit records and property lettings sites

What conditions will be attached to the licence?

There are certain legal conditions which the Council must impose when issuing a licence. There are some additional conditions which have been included by the Council to help prevent or reduce anti-social behaviour.
Download a list of the conditions.

Are properties let through Letting Waltham Forest exempt from the scheme?

No, properties let under this scheme need to make an application and be licensed but will be eligible for a licence fee refund.

Are properties let through the Rent Deposit Scheme exempt from the scheme?

No, properties let under this scheme need to make an application and be licensed.

How has Private Rented Property Licensing had a positive impact in other areas of the country?

In Newham, where the scheme is relatively new and the data is limited, the Council has so far signed up 30,000 properties to the scheme. They have found one in five unlicensed properties contained wanted criminals and a number of prosecutions are on-going.

In Stoke on Trent, where the scheme has been in place for a longer period of time, 297 inspected properties identified 207 with defects. These properties have now been brought up to a reasonable standard. Three landlords who ignored their legal responsibility have been successfully prosecuted and were fined.

How do tenants benefit from licensing?

Licensing will benefit tenants by providing clear minimum standards for rented housing and will enable the Council to identify and take action against bad landlords.

What information will I need to provide?

To make a full and proper PRPL application it is necessary to provide detailed information about the property, the applicant, the owner, the manager and the occupants of the property.

Find out more about the documents and information that you will for your application
Supporting documentation is uploaded at the end of the application form, once you have progressed through licence payment.

The property I am letting is in Waltham Forest but I live elsewhere; do I still need to apply?

Yes, all private rented properties within Waltham Forest must hold a licence.
Health and safety checks

What health and safety checks should I carry out?

Find out which health and safety checks should be carried out on your property(s).

Will there be a register of landlords and their property holdings?

Yes, one of the legal requirements of the licensing scheme is that the Council holds and maintains a publically accessible register of all licensed properties.

The Council held register will hold information such as the name and address of the licence holder, any manager, and details of any licence conditions and the dates of the licence.

What legal powers will licensing give to the Council?

  • The Council will adopt all legal powers as provided for by the Housing Act 2004 including:
  • the capacity to grant or refuse a licence
  • right of entry
  • requirement for a private rented property to have a licence
  • the requirement to impose additional licence conditions
  • the power to take over the management of any property that is required to be licensed but is not so
  • Property inspections

Will my property be inspected?

All licenced properties will be subject to selection for inspection.

Find out more about audit and compliance

Who should be the Private Rented Property Licence holder?

The Housing Act 2004 requires that the Council can only grant a licence to the most appropriate person, and in most circumstances, this would be the owner of the property or the named landlord on the tenancy agreement.

  • The licence holder must be the person who is responsible for managing and is in control of the property and must be a ‘fit and proper’ person
  • The licence holder should be able to authorise, organise and pay for essential repairs to the property
  • They must be available to the tenants should questions or problems arise in respect of the property, and must have the means to resolve them where reasonably practical
  • You can be a licence holder and live abroad though you will need to satisfy the Council that you have in place appropriate management of the property

Please be advised that if the Proposed Licence Holder or Manager fail the Fit and Proper Test, your application may be rejected and the licence application fee will not be refunded.

What is the difference between the licence holder and the landlord?

The licence holder may in some cases be the landlord’s managing agent, but the end result is the same, in that the licence holder is responsible for ensuring that the landlord complies with the conditions of the licence.

I own a property that is let to a registered letting agent; how will the PRPL scheme affect this arrangement?

The proposal should not affect this arrangement. The letting agent can apply for the licence on your behalf and can become the licence holder if they manage the property.

I own several properties; do I need a PRPL for each one?

Yes, all properties in Waltham Forest require their own licence.

What does the licence fee include?

The licence fee covers the application for a PRPL and licences are issued for a maximum of 5 years.

If I sell the property or stop letting it am I entitled to a refund?

No, the licence fee is non-refundable.

How long will a licence be valid?

The government have stated that a licence can be issued for a maximum of five years. However, depending on the management and amenity standards within the property and any concerns the council may have over an applicant’s ‘fit and proper’ person status we may issue a licence for a reduced period of less than five years.

Will I need to renew my PRPL?

Yes. A new PRPL is required at the end of the licence period (which is usually 5 years).

What happens to landlords who refuse to apply or comply with the scheme?

Failure to apply for a licence could result in prosecution, fines of up to £20,000 and an application for an Interim Management Order.

If a landlord is unlicensed they cannot serve notice to their tenants under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
Landlords could be fined for every breach of the conditions of licence. Additional methods may be introduced such as:

  • a Management Order, to take control of the property from the landlord
  • a Rent Repayment Order (RPO) for up to 12 months rental income

Can the Council refuse to licence a property?

Yes, if the property does not meet the licence conditions.

What happens if my application is rejected?

The proposed licence holder will have the right to make representations to the Council about the conditions of the licence. If no agreement can be reached the applicant has the right of appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal.

How do I report an unlicensed Property? 

Contact the Private Rented Property Licensing Team on 0208 496 3000.

Published on 27 May 2015

Source Wonderlease

Written by Marc Cohen

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