Why is it so hard to find 5 bed properties with an HMO license in the Clapham/Battersea area?

Why is it so hard to find 5 bed properties with an HMO license in the Clapham/Battersea area?

10:19 AM, 4th September 2014, About 9 years ago 5

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We are a group of sharers falling into the “young professional” age category (a mixture of accountants, engineers and consultants) looking for a 5 bed in the Clapham/Battersea/Balham area and it amazes me how few properties there appear to be with an HMO license.

One letting agency even went as far as to recommend lying about how many people will be living in the property, something I am not keen to do.

I’d be really grateful for any suggestions or advice on how to track down something suitable, or even just an explanation as to why most landlords do not think it is worthwhile obtaining one.

Thank you,

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12:40 PM, 4th September 2014, About 9 years ago

Hi Sam,

Sam here from SpareRoom. Have you only tried letting agents when searching for properties to share? SpareRoom allows you to search for whole properties to share, that are set up and suitable for sharers, so the HMO issue should already be covered. I don't see a 5 bed in Clapham right now but something like this could be suitable for your group: http://www.spareroom.co.uk/flatshare/flatshare_detail.pl?flatshare_id=3580757

Alternatively you can set up search alerts on the site so that when something is listed that suits your criteria, you will be amongst the first to hear about it.

Good luck with your search.


Ian Ringrose

13:47 PM, 4th September 2014, About 9 years ago

An HMO license is NOT needed if the property has no more then two floors, however many people live there.

Getting an HMO license is a lot of work, so the only time a landlord will do so, is when it will give them a lot more rent. Costly work also needs doing including auto closing fire doors etc, that is of no benefit if letting to a family, if anything auto closing doors will put a family off letting the property.

Mark Crampton Smith

13:53 PM, 4th September 2014, About 9 years ago

It is not just your hood that is suffering....... In Oxford we have a fairly constant stream of professional sharers seeking licensed HMOs but because the students have already taken all the best stock, professional sharers are being forced to either take sub-standard property or are having to pay very inflated rents. The bi-product of licensing was predicted, but the increase of between 20% and 30% in property values triggered by the rent hikes is even greater than we envisaged.

Ian Ringrose

14:43 PM, 4th September 2014, About 9 years ago

Lets me clear, what type of HMO license is being talked about?


16:04 PM, 4th September 2014, About 9 years ago

Clapham and Battersea fall under Wandsworth council, which appears from their website only to license full HMOs, i.e. houseshares with three or more storey and five or more unrelated tenants. They are far less aggressive than nightmare authorities like Newham or Oxford. The fee is £1370, less £100 if the landlord is accredited, less £200 if he or she submits plans and approaches the council to confess their guilt at having the cheek to run an HMO, rather than be "found out" by the council.

So the cost is not onerous, though there may be substantial costs in meeting the demands of EHOs, e.g. if there are three storeys, there will be all sorts of extra fire safety requirements which aren't required if you let to a family. I suspect Sam and friends can't find a licensed 5-bed HMO due to simple supply and demand: London is full up, especially in those attractive areas. Any existing HMOs will only have one or two places come free at a time, and complete houses are already let at high rents to corporate clients. Any landlord looking to meet market demand and set up for the first time in Battersea, Clapham or Balham has to be extremely brave, and rich: house prices in London are at an all-time high, rents are at an all-time low relative to the cost of ownership (capital employed, maintenance cost, risk of damage or rent default), and the general political mood-music is extremely hostile towards HMOs.

Try Spareroom and Accommodation for Students, but August and September are the peak months of the year, as people change jobs and go to college, so it's the worst time to be looking.

Also approach estate agents and offer yourselves as a group looking for a corporate let, perhaps with parents or employers as guarantors, or offer to pay a year's rent up-front.

Alternatively, who cares about whether the HMO is licensed? It there is two storeys, 3 upstairs bedroom and 2 downstairs, with 1 reception and/or kitchen-diner, this won't need a license but is still perfectly capable of operating as a houseshare. I suspect though that there will be just as rare in your areas.

So, consider a change of area, to find a better supply of property?

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