Two new licensing schemes now in operation in the London Borough of Islington

Islington Council launched two new landlord licensing schemes earlier this year with implications for HMO (houses in multiple occupation) properties. The North London council has introduced these schemes with the aim of making private renting more fair, improving living conditions, and to protect renters’ rights. Minimum standards for property management will be set by the council to cover the provision of kitchen and bathroom facilities, room sizes, health and safety (e.g. fire, gas, and electrical safety checks).

The Borough of Islington first announced these landlord licensing schemes just before the start of the pandemic in February last year, the first scheme operates borough-wide and covers HMOs. In research, they discovered that HMOs had some of the lowest housing standards in the London borough with many HMO conversions having little or non-existent fire safety measures. A HMO licensing pilot scheme carried out in Caledonian Road and Holloway Road areas of Islington was found to have improved standards and led to better HMO management.

The second is a selective licensing scheme for the Finsbury Park ward, which has some of the worst housing conditions for privately rented properties in the North London borough. Due to the high risk of tenants being exploited and taken advantage of by rogue landlords, Islington Council acted and are requiring landlords to obtain a license when they rent out a flat or house occupied by either a single household or two people sharing.

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, commented:  “These new landlord licensing schemes will help protect private renters and also ensure that conscientious landlords are rewarded. There are a great many responsible landlords in the borough and schemes like this help to level the playing field.

As both schemes are active, Islington Council are reminding landlords to apply for a licence if they have not done so already. 

What is a HMO?

To determine what is an HMO we need to start with what ‘HMO’ stands for ie. House in Multiple Occupancy or House of Multiple Occupation. The standard definition of a section 254 HMO is: 3 or more tenants, more than 1 household and shared facilities.

For Section 257 HMOs, the standard definition of a section 257 HMO refers to buildings that: 

have been converted into self-contained flats; 

the conversion did not comply with the relevant Building Regulations in force at that time and still does not comply; 

and less than two-thirds of the flats are owner-occupied.

How can I check my property compliance?

The HMO Services Compliance checker will help you stay one step ahead of any changes like this and help with your property compliance, so you know how any licensing changes by your local council could affect you. Just enter your postcode 👍 to find out more.

What is Property Licensing?

Property licensing is the Local Authority’s process of improving living standards in rental accommodation and proving that landlords are ‘fit and proper’ persons to operate these properties. The type of licence a property requires varies depending on a number of different factors, including the number of tenants and the council your property is located in.

Why is Property Licensing important?

It is important that you are aware of both the national and local authority regulations. The licensing rules are not consistent across every London borough, with each individual borough creating its own set of licensing rules. A professional licensing company should be instructed to guide you through the process. In short, the type of licence required will depend on the property itself, how it is tenanted and the borough that it is located in.

For more information about property licensing, download our guide.

Work in the property business?

Do you work as a letting agent, mortgage consultants, investors or property/building manager? Then take a look at our sister company Yuno, who is ready to help you with any changes you must make.

For more information please contact HMO Services on 020 3848 2200 or email