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Selective licensing

Find out about our plans for a selective licensing scheme for private rented properties
Selective licensing

From 1 July 2024, most private rental properties in Lewisham will need a licence. Landlords with licensable properties who have not applied for a licence will be committing an offence.

Apply before 20 August to benefit from a 20% early bird discount.

Find out who needs a license.

Apply for a private property licence

Apply now for a selective license and get a 20% discount.

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Our proposals for a selective licensing scheme to cover nearly all privately rented properties in the borough received approval from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) in December 2023. The new scheme will come into effect on 1 July 2024.

The new scheme will cover an additional 20,000 properties in the borough and nearly all privately rented properties in Lewisham not currently covered by the existing licensing schemes for Houses of Multiple Occupations (HMOs) will need a licence under the new scheme. 

The Council will work closely with landlords and tenants in the borough to ensure they are aware of the their responsibilities and rights under the new licensing scheme. More information about how to apply for a license will be published shortly, including how to check if your property will be within the designation.

The notice of designation sets out the full details of the scheme, including which properties and areas of the borough it applies to:

Selective licensing interactive map

To find out whether selective licensing applies to your property please see our interactive map:

  1. Start by finding the right menu 

    On the left side of the page, look for the drop-down menu labelled 'Community Services' and click on it to expand your options.

  2. Select the designation area

    From the expanded list, choose 'Selective Licensable Area' to view the designated areas on the map.

  3. Search for your address

    Move to the top left corner of the page and click on 'Simple Address Search'. This will allow you to search for your specific address.

  4. Enter your address details

    You can search by either postcode or street name. Enter your details into the search box provided.

  5. Choose your address from the list

    After entering your search criteria, you'll be presented with a list of addresses. Scroll through to find and select your exact address.

  6. View your property on the map

    Once you've selected your address, it will be displayed on the map alongside the Selective Licence Designation, showing whether your property falls within the designated area.

Cost and duration of licence

The basic fee for a selective licence is £640, divided into two parts: £160 upon application and £480 upon granting. Discounts are available for early applications, accredited landlords and eligible charities, the discount is applied to the second payment.

Accreditation must be verified through membership in recognised associations such as the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LLAS) or the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA)

The licence usually lasts for five years, there may be circumstances where we issue licences for a shorter period.

Selective Licensing Designation

Pdf, 572.2KB


Apply for a private property licence

Apply now for a selective license and get a 20% discount.

Apply now

Frequently asked questions

General questions

What is selective licensing?

Selective licensing allows local authorities to require landlords within a designated area to obtain a licence, in order to improve housing standards and tackle anti-social behaviour.

The legal basis for selective licensing derives from the Housing Act 2004, with specific permissions needed from the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities if a scheme covers more than 20 per cent of the borough's private rented sector.

In 2023, Lewisham Council was granted such permission based on substantial evidence indicating the need to address issues in the private rented sector, including:

  • the presence of hazards requiring intervention to improve overall housing conditions
  • persistent anti-social behaviour with some landlords not adequately managing these issues
  • high levels of deprivation in the private rented sector

See the evidence and detailed rationale for our selective licensing. An extensive public consultation with landlords, tenants and other residents was carried out prior to the designation of the scheme.

Selective licensing is only introduced in areas where the Council can provide evidence that it's necessary, hence its absence in specific wards like Telegraph Hill and parts of Blackheath.

Where does selective licensing apply within Lewisham?

For a detailed view of the designated areas, please refer to our selective licensing map.

Questions from landlords

Do I need a licence for my rental property?

If you're not a Registered Provider of Social Housing or a Registered Social Landlord, you'll likely need a selective licence for your rental properties in Lewisham. This includes properties let under a single tenancy or those with multiple tenancies in different units.

Additionally, properties rented to three or more people forming two or more separate households require a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence.

I have lodgers - do I need a licence?

Lodger arrangements, where you share facilities with the lodgers in your own home, do not require a selective licence. However, if you have three or more lodgers, your property may be classified as an HMO, and you'll need the appropriate HMO licence.

I have multiple properties - does each one need a licence?

Yes, each property under the Selective and HMO schemes requires its own licence. The schemes licence properties, not landlords, so if you own or manage multiple properties, each must be licenced individually.

What documents do I need to apply for a selective licence?

The application for a selective licence requires the following documents:

  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
  • Gas Safety Certificate, if applicable, or a declaration of no gas supply

How much does a selective licence cost?

The basic fee for a selective licence is £640, divided into two parts: £160 upon application and £480 upon granting. Discounts are available for early applications, accredited landlords, and eligible charities, applied to the second payment.

Accreditation must be verified through membership in recognised associations such as the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LLAS) or the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), among others.

What are the conditions of a selective licence?

To view the list of conditions, refer to the designation map and conditions list.

Can I rent out my property without a selective licence?

It is illegal to rent out a property without a selective licence unless it falls under specific exemptions. Violations can lead to prosecution, fines, and Civil Penalty Notices up to £30,000. Legal rental can commence once an application for a licence is made. Unlicensed rental exposes landlords to Rent Repayment Orders and restricts the use of "no fault" eviction procedures.

Who is the 'licence holder'?

The licence holder is the designated individual or organisation named on the licence, responsible for ensuring compliance with licence conditions and property management. Typically, this should be the property owner or a significant rent recipient, but anyone deemed 'fit and proper' can be appointed.

Non-UK residents must appoint a local agent who is prepared to be bound by the terms of the license and has access to funds for any necessary repairs that may be ordered by the council.

Will I have to evict my tenants?

To avoid the need for a licence, ceasing rental operations is required. Directly evicting tenants from an unlicensed property can be complicated due to restrictions on using s21 eviction notices. Temporary exemptions may be granted under certain conditions for landlords with plans to bring their properties into compliance.

If you would like more information about your rights and responsibilities in this situation, contact us on 020 8314 6440 or selectivelicensing@lewisham.gov.uk.

Questions from tenants

How does selective licensing affect me as a tenant?

Selective licensing aims to enhance the quality of rented accommodation, ensuring that tenants live in safe and well-managed properties. Under a selective licensing scheme, you as a tenant can expect:

  • a written tenancy agreement detailing your rights and obligations
  • fire safety guidance, including clear escape routes and fire prevention measures
  • written instructions for reporting repairs, ensuring timely maintenance of the property
  • receipts for cash rent payments, providing transparency and proof of payment
  • essential safety certificates provided by your landlord, including Gas Safety, Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), and Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • installation of smoke alarms on every occupied storey and carbon monoxide detectors in rooms with fuel-burning appliances, enhancing your safety
  • compliance of any provided furniture with current fire safety regulations
  • protection of your deposit in a government-authorised scheme, with information on the scheme and its end-of-tenancy procedures
  • a clear route to support from the council, if your landlord is not abiding by the terms of the license, or is in breach of other aspects of housing legislation

These measures are put in place to protect tenants and improve the overall standards of rental accommodation within the licensing area.

What should I do if my home is not licenced?

Living in an unlicensed property can affect your rights and protections as a tenant.
If you suspect your home is unlicensed, you should:

  • Understand your protections: Your landlord is unable to serve a legally valid Section 21 eviction notice if your home is unlicensed.
  • Report the property: Notify the council about an unlicensed property by calling 0208 314 6420 or emailing pshe@lewisham.gov.uk. The council can then take necessary enforcement action against the landlord.

You may also be eligible to apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for an RRO to reclaim up to 12 months' rent. Lewisham Council can provide evidence regarding the licensing status of your home and refer you to our partners Justice for Tenants who can support you with your application.

Application process

How do I apply for a selective licence?

Subscribe to our selective licensing updates on our website to be notified when applications are live.
Applying for a selective licence in Lewisham is straightforward.

Here’s how to start:

  1. Visit the Lewisham Council website: Navigate to the Selective Licensing section to access detailed information and the online application form.
  2. Prepare your documents: Gather all necessary documents, including your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), and, if applicable,
  3. your Gas Safety Certificate.
  4. Complete the application: Fill out the form accurately, providing details about your property and tenancy arrangements. Ensure all required fields are completed to avoid delays.
  5. Submit and pay the fee: Submit your application online and pay the initial part of the licence fee. Remember, the fee is divided into two payments; the second payment will be taken upon licence approval.

What happens after I submit my application?

  1. Initial check: We will first ensure your application is complete and all necessary documents have been submitted
  2. Inspection: Your property may be inspected to verify compliance with licensing conditions and housing standards
  3. Decision: After a thorough review, you’ll receive a decision notification. If your application is successful, the second part of the fee will be taken, and your licence issued

My address is not appearing when trying to apply for a licence

If your address is within one of the designations but is not recognised by our licensing software, it likely isn’t listed in the Lewisham Property Gazetteer.

To rectify this:

  1. Apply for street naming and numbering service. You’ll need to provide details of any planning consent applications related to your property.
  2. Update planning consent information: If planning consent was applied for, granted, or refused, use the respective reference number in your application. This ensures your property can be registered and recognised for licensing.

I am having issues using the online application form

Should you encounter any difficulties with the online application form contact us on 020 8314 6440 or email selectivelicensing@lewisham.gov.uk. Our team is ready to help you through the application process or resolve any technical issues you may face.

Compliance and enforcement

What happens if I don’t comply with the licence conditions?

Non-compliance with the conditions of your selective licence carries significant legal consequences. Breaching licence conditions constitutes a criminal offense. Conviction can lead to substantial fines and may impact your status as a 'fit and proper' person to hold any property licence. 

Lewisham Council possesses the authority to issue Civil Penalty Notices up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution, providing a swift punitive measure for non-compliance. 

Serious or repeated breaches can trigger the revocation of your licence, irrespective of any criminal proceedings or Civil Penalty Notices. This action can be taken unilaterally by the council to uphold housing standards within the borough.

Compliance with licence conditions is crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of tenants and to maintain your ability to lawfully rent out property.

How can I report an unlicensed property for non-compliance?

Lewisham Council encourages residents, tenants, and other concerned parties to report any suspected unlicensed properties or breaches of licensing conditions. If you are aware of a property that may be operating without the necessary licence or failing to meet its conditions, you can report it in the following ways:

  • Telephone: call us directly at 020 8314 6440 to speak with a member of the housing team
  • Email: send detailed information about the property and any known issues to selectivelicensing@lewisham.gov.uk

The council treats all reports confidentially and will investigate accordingly to ensure compliance with the selective licensing scheme.


The ownership/ management of the property has changed - what should I do?

Changes in property ownership or management can affect the status of your selective licence.

Here’s what you need to do based on the status of your licence:

  • Before the licence is granted

    If your licence hasn't been granted yet, inform us immediately about the change. Administrative adjustments will be made to the proposed licence holder's name upon receiving written consent from both the previous proposed licence holder and the property owner. The new proposed licence holder must complete the 'fit and proper' section of the application form.

  • After the licence is granted

    If the licence has already been granted, it must be revoked, as licences cannot be transferred between individuals. With written consent from the current licence holder, the process is straightforward. The new proposed licence holder will then need to apply for a new licence.

  • For non-UK resident licence holders

    If you’re changing your UK agent, notify us with the agent's written agreement to comply with the licence terms and their declaration of sufficient funds for urgent repairs. UK resident landlords who haven’t made any formal agreement with their agents don’t need to notify us about agent changes.

I have made alterations to the property; do I need to inform the Council?

Yes, it is crucial to inform the council if you plan to undertake work on your property that could influence your licence or its conditions. Not doing so constitutes a breach of your licence.

Such alterations may require a review of your licence conditions or necessitate a new application, especially if they affect the property's occupancy, safety standards, or structural integrity.

Always ensure your property complies with the latest licensing requirements and planning regulations to avoid potential penalties.

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