Awareness Campaign: 5 Most Common Questions If Your Landlord Doesn’t Have a Licence



In this article we will answer the 5 most common questions private tenants have asked us about unlicenced properties.

So, you’ve checked the licencing register and you are now certain that your landlord has failed to apply for a property licence. What should you do? What are the next steps? Who do you contact? We answer the top 5 most common questions about what to do if your landlord doesn’t have a property licence.

Is there one team at the Council which is dedicated to helping private tenants?

No, there are multiple!

Private Sector Housing Enforcement Team can only deal with problems pertaining to the property itself, for example, disrepair and/or licensing.

  • If you live in an unlicensed property, you can contact the team here
  • If you live in a house or a flat which is in disrepair, you can report it here

Tenancies Relations Service Team deals with private tenants and landlords. They can help to explain tenancy rights to both parties and ensure that the landlord understands their obligations. The team often works as a mediator between both parties.

  • You can contact the team here

The Housing Solutions Service team supports tenants who have been made homeless. The team also deals with properties which the Council has deemed an imminent risk to the tenants’ health & safety.

I have submitted my enquiry to the Council but they haven’t responded. What should I do?

Did you submit your request for help to the right team?  It is very important that you contact the correct team for your enquiry. Don’t assume that just by contacting anyone at the Council will mean that your enquiry will be forwarded to the relevant team. If your enquiry does not reach the right team, your issue might not be dealt with.

See the descriptions and links to contact the various teams above.

If you have contacted the right team but have not heard back (or disagree with the Council’s reply), you can file a complaint here. You can also call the complaints team on 020 7525 0042.

What areas is property licencing in?

HMO licencing and Additional HMO licencing are borough-wide. This means that every private landlord in every ward in Southwark must have a licence if they rent the property to at least 3 sharers from two or more different households.

You can read all about types of licences and how to count households in our previous article here

Since November 2023, Selective licensing applies to 19 out of 23 wards. Selective licensing covers properties that are occupied by a single person, couple or family. These wards are:

  • Newington,
  • Champion Hill,
  • Faraday,
  • St Giles and Goose Green,
  • North Walworth,
  • Nunhead & Queens Road,
  • Old Kent Road, Peckham,
  • Camberwell Green,
  • Chaucer,
  • Dulwich Hill,
  • Dulwich Wood,
  • London Bridge & West Bermondsey,
  • Peckham Rye,
  • Rotherhithe,
  • Rye Lane,
  • South Bermondsey
  • Surrey Docks

(Selective licensing does not apply in Borough & Bankside, St George’s, North Bermondsey and Dulwich Village).

You can check if your property is an area with selective licensing using this link.

You can see the graph on how to find out what type of licence your home requires here

Who can help me if my landlord doesn’t have a licence?

As property licencing is a scheme which is operated by Southwark Council, your first point of contact should be the Council. You can notify the Private Sector Housing Enforcement Team via webform here.

Are disrepair issues at your home part of the problem? If so, you can notify the council via their webform here.

The Council also works closely with a not-for-profit organization Justice for Tenants. JFT helps private tenants recover their rent from landlords who have failed to apply for a property licence. If you wanted to pursue legal action against your landlord, JFT will liaise with the Council to provide evidence for your case and will take action to bring the landlord to court. You can get in touch with this team via  They can support you with your Rent Repayment Order application and, if you wish, can carry out all aspects of the rent repayment order for you.

We will discuss rent repayment orders in our subsequent articles

What else can I do if my landlord doesn’t have a property licence?

If you think you have a much more serious case against the landlord, you can seek legal help. Organizations or universities such as Southwark Law Centre and Legal Advice Clinic at LSBU offer free legal advice. Anthony Gold Solicitors in Walworth may provide free legal representation. Justice For Tenants can support you with your Rent Repayment Order application and, if you wish, can carry out all aspects of the rent repayment order for you.

Regardless of the problem, a trained solicitor will always be the best to advise on the best options for you.

These were the 5 most common questions about unlicenced properties. Have a question or feedback about this article? Contact us via our webform and we will get back to you!


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