Southwark Council to Relax HMO Licensing for Landlords

Here at Alex & Matteo, we always strive to be industry-leading and the first when it comes to sharing new local property news. Well today is a big one for our local landlords and residents.

Southwark Council recently relaxed their licensing system. Previously all properties with 3 or more unrelated tenants were required to have a HMO license. That has now changed!

While this is exciting news for many of our SE16, SE1, Bermondsey, Surrey Quays, Rotherhithe, Canada Water tenants and landlords, it is a matter that elicits divided opinions.


The council have increased the number of tenants allowed in unlicensed properties and have made it much more lucrative for potential home buyers. The opportunities for investors looking to purchase an income property within Southwark Council has become even more attractive now. Alongside the potential income upside, the overall management of a property has become easier for Landlords now as well.

On the other hand one of our neighbours who live in Rotherhithe Village says: “All the better for landlords and estate agents but not for long term residents who have to put up with Anti-Social Behaviour from nearby HMOs whilst property developers (who are mainly not local) have been depleted the area of family homes to turn them into profitable HMOs”.

Regardless of which side you fall on, we felt it’s important to know what is happening in our local neighbourhoods.

For definition purposes, let’s start from what an HMO is and the new regulations.

For all our SE16 and SE1 residents, Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) is where a property, as the name states, houses three or more tenants that are not part of the same household. For this purpose, a household is considered to be a single person, or members of the same family living in the same property (please note that couples are considered family as well).

It is not only about the number of tenants occupying the property, it also relates to the sharing of accommodation between tenants inside the property.

In the borough of Southwark, such as Bermondsey, Surrey Quays, Rotherhithe and Canada Water, prior to January 1st, 2021, all households who fall within this HMO classification required a license. That has all now changed.

There were also certain locations (Old Kent Road to name one of them) where landlords were requested to apply and pay for a licence for all tenanted properties regardless size and number of tenants (even units housing only one tenant).

Now (1st Jan 2021), Southwark Council has announced that will only be licensing properties that require a license under the mandatory scheme. House of Multi-Occupancies will require a license if they meet both the following criteria:

· 5 or more people in two or more households;

· Shared amenities such as bathrooms or cooking facilities

The news is welcome by many tenants as well. Until now lot of groups a three or more friends were struggling to find a suitable accommodation in our neighbourhoods due to the fact many landlords were not in possess of a licence indeed.

We needed to get this news out to you all as soon as possible. Please contact us if you’d like additional information where we would be more than happy to assist.

Alex & Matteo