Update on Oxford licensing

The Oxford city-wide selective licensing scheme, implemented in September 2022, requires all private rented homes in Oxford to have a licence. Here are the key points from the first year of the scheme:

  • High Number of Applications: Private landlords and agents submitted over 12,000 licence applications during the first year, exceeding expectations. This included around 9,000 applications during an initial ‘early bird’ period.
  • Licence Issuance: The council issued over 2,100 final licences during the first year, with more expected to be issued in the coming months for the remaining ‘early bird’ applications.
  • Investigations: The council investigated 83 cases during the first year, with ongoing investigations into remaining cases. 49 licence applications were made, and 16 were exempt.
  • Property Inspections: Property inspections conducted in response to complaints found that 59% of inspected properties had serious housing hazards. The council plans to ramp up inspections and aims to inspect 60% of licensed homes over the five years of the scheme.
  • Previous Licensing Requirements: Prior to the scheme, only HMOs needed a licence, despite making up less than 15% of private rented homes in Oxford.
  • Enforcement: Unlicensed landlords and agents face proactive enforcement action, including financial penalties of up to £30,000. Courts also have the authority to impose unlimited fines for unlicensed homes.

Linda Smith, responsible for housing on the council, emphasized the importance of the selective licensing scheme in raising quality standards in private rented homes and ensuring safe, decent housing for tenants. She encouraged landlords and agents who haven’t applied yet to do so to avoid enforcement action and potential fines.

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