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Agents told ‘Get A Move On’ as licensing scheme flags


A council has told letting agents to ‘get a move on’ as it admits there’s been a slow start to its controversial licensing scheme.

Oxford’s Labour-controlled council introduced a city-wide selective licensing scheme back in September 2022 but it has received only some 10,500 applications. This is out of just over 30,000 licences which it believes should be operating across the city.


It now says that agents and landlords face a big increase in the application fee if they don’t apply by September 1, when it goes up from £480 for a five-year licence to some £1,100 unless a home is newly rented within 12 weeks of the date of application.

The council claims the lower first-year rate is the result of consultation with agents and landlords. 

A statement from Oxford council says: “They told the council that responsible landlords and agents making an early application should not have to bear the costs of enforcement against those who applied late or did not apply at all. So far, the council has issued 986 licences and around 2,000 draft licences.”

Before last September only HMOs required a licence to operate in Oxford. These made up under 15 per cent of private rented homes in the city. 

The council’s statement goes on: “Unlicensed landlords and agents are now at risk of enforcement action. The council can issue financial penalties of up to £30,000 and the courts have the power to impose unlimited fines for unlicensed homes.

“Tenants living in an unlicensed home can apply to a First Tier Tribunal for a rent repayment order. This allows them to claim back up to a year’s rent from their landlord for any period the home they live in is unlicensed. Tenants can find out whether their home is licensed on the register of selective licences. As well as RROs, unlicensed landlords and agents may have to repay any housing benefit paid to them by the council.”

However, licences are not published on the register until they are issued and it does not include pending applications. 

“We’ve had more than 10,500 applications to our selective licensing scheme and we’re making good progress with issuing licences. If you’re a landlord or agent who hasn’t applied yet then you need to get a move on. The application fee will increase from £480 to £1,100 on 1 September and you’re already at risk of enforcement action if your properties are unlicensed” says Labour councillor Linda Smith, cabinet member for housing in Oxford.


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