A student accommodation management company has been ordered to refund more than £84,000 in rent after failing to licence it with the city council.
SC Osney Lane Management Ltd runs the purpose-built Student Castle in Osney Lane, Oxford, which opened in 2020.
But it failed to apply for a house in multiple occupation (HMO) licence for the 41-flats complex.
The council’s HMO additional licensing scheme requires managers of all shared rented houses and flats to be licensed.
A council officer advised the company of the issue after inspecting the 242-room building in September 2021, which it later applied for and obtained.
People living in unlicensed accommodation can claim back rent from landlords, which led to 44 tenants making a group claim via a tribunal at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court.
It decided each tenant should receive a 35% refund of rent, paid while it was unlicensed, totalling £84,877.
The tribunal found that while the pandemic “interrupted normal ways of doing business“, the respondent was a “professional landlord who should have ensured there were systems in place“.
However, it accepted the failure to obtain a licence was “by omission rather than deliberate“.
Linda Smith, cabinet member for housing, said the case showed the consequences of landlords not having their paperwork in order.
She added: “Everyone deserves a decent home and our licensing schemes are vital in helping to ensure that private rented homes are safe, well maintained and well managed.”