Comprehensive Guide to Rental Property Standards in Tower Hamlets

Ensuring Quality and Safety in Rented Accommodations

Ensuring Quality and Safety in Rented Accommodations

Tower Hamlets has established rigorous standards to maintain the quality and safety of rented properties within the borough. These standards are designed to ensure that all tenants have access to safe, comfortable, and well-equipped living spaces. Here’s a detailed overview of the key elements of these standards:

Space Standards for Sleeping Accommodation

In Tower Hamlets, a bedsit or studio is defined as a room used for sleeping that includes basic amenities like food preparation and hygiene facilities. Bedrooms are rooms used solely for sleeping without any basic facilities, which are either shared or exclusive to the occupier. A maximum of two people can share a room for sleeping, and rooms must not be shared by people of the opposite sex over the age of ten unless they are a couple.

Room Sizes:

  • One Occupant: Minimum 8.5 m² if the kitchen is separate, 13 m² if the kitchen is within the room.
  • Two Occupants: Minimum 13 m² if the kitchen is separate, 18 m² if the kitchen is within the room.

Rooms must have a ceiling height of at least 2.14 meters over 75% of the floor area.

Living and Dining Rooms

Landlords may provide communal living rooms in addition to required kitchen and dining spaces. The minimum size for a communal living room is 13 m² for three people, with an additional 1 m² for each additional person. Combined living/dining rooms should be at least 14 m² for three people, increasing similarly for more occupants.

Kitchen Facilities

Kitchens should be located within one floor of the sleeping area. The size of the kitchen depends on the number of sharers:

  • Up to 3 Sharers: Minimum 5.5 m²
  • 4-5 Sharers: Minimum 7.5 m²
  • 6-7 Sharers: Minimum 9.5 m²
  • 8-10 Sharers: Minimum 11.5 m²

Each set of kitchen facilities must include adequate cooking appliances, sinks, worktops, splashbacks, electrical sockets, storage, and refrigeration.

Personal Washing and WC Facilities

Bathrooms and WCs should be within one floor of the bedrooms and must be accessible from a common area. The facilities must be ventilated, heated, and include suitable locks and impervious surfaces. The minimum standards vary with the number of occupants:

  • 1-4 Occupants: 1 bath with wash hand basin, and 1 WC (can be in the bathroom)
  • 5 Occupants: Additional wash hand basin in each sleeping room
  • 6-10 Occupants: 2 bathrooms and 2 WCs

Fire Safety

Properties must comply with fire safety standards based on the LACORS Housing Fire Safety Guidance. This includes a mains-wired fire detection system and protected escape routes.


All properties must have effective insulation and efficient heating systems. Fixed heating systems with thermostatic valves or storage heaters (if no gas supply) are required.

Additional Considerations

Compliance with these standards does not negate the need for compliance with other statutory provisions, including the Housing Act 2004 and supporting regulations.

Buildings Converted into Flats (Section 257 HMOs)

Section 257 HMOs are buildings converted into flats that do not meet 1991 Building Regulations and where a third or more of the flats are rented on short-term tenancies. These must meet additional standards, including:

  • Studio for One Person: Minimum 11 m²
  • Studio for Two People: Minimum 15 m²
  • Separate Kitchen: 5.5 m² for single occupancy, 6.5 m² for multiple occupiers
  • Separate Bedroom: 6.51 m² for single occupancy, 10 m² for a couple


Tower Hamlets' stringent standards aim to enhance living conditions by ensuring rented properties are safe, comfortable, and well-maintained. These regulations cover all aspects from room sizes to fire safety, guaranteeing tenants a high standard of living. For more detailed information, you can visit the Tower Hamlets Landlord Licensing Schemes page.


Q: When do I need to apply for an HMO licence?

A: You need to apply for an HMO licence if you are renting to more than two unrelated tenants.

Q: What do I need to do to apply?

A: We can help with your application. You will need a floor plan, an EPC, a fire alarm certificate, a valid EICR, and a gas safety certificate.

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