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New Oxford accreditation scheme is ‘unlawful’, says RLA

A new landlord accreditation scheme in Oxford has been deemed both discriminatory and unlawful by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

The association has written to Oxford Council to oppose the scheme on the grounds it includes conditions which breach European directives.

In Oxford, all landlords of houses of multiple occupation (HMO) are required to obtain a licence, in order to rent out their property lawfully. Around 20% of the city’s population live in an HMO.

Under the existing scheme, private landlords in Oxford accredited by the council are able to obtain a longer HMO licence, than those who are not, even if landlords are able to demonstrate expertise in alternative ways such as through training.

In a letter to the council, the RLA argues that this is an unfair and unlawful policy, because longer HMO licences offer a financial and practical benefit for landlords, yet only landlords who are members of the Council’s accreditation scheme can benefit from these longer licences at the moment.

The scheme also includes a condition demanding landlords attend training sessions to become accredited.  The RLA has warned that this discriminates against landlords who live outside of Oxford or the UK but rent property out in the city and breaches the EU Service Directive, which clearly states that accreditation and licensing ‘cannot be provided in a way which discriminates based on country of establishment’.

The RLA is now calling for the authority to review the plan as a matter of urgency.

David Smith, policy director for the RLA, which is threatened the council with judicial review, should Oxford City Council not take action, commented: “It is very concerning that there are so many apparent illegalities in Oxford City Council’s accreditation scheme.

“The RLA strongly urges the local authority to review the scheme and would welcome the chance to meet with council representatives to discuss our concerns further.”

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    This is illegal so the Council officials and Councillors should be jailed, like they threaten to do to landlords.

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    Yes name and shame fine and jail. No excuses.

  • Paul Barrett

    I'm sure if the Council had engaged in a proper consultation process the likes of the RLA would have been only too willing to offer them guidance as to how they could formulate a legal scheme.
    Yet again another arrogant Council that believes it knows what it is doing when it clearly doesn't.
    Utilising the good offices of the RLA greatly assisted by that very astute legal brain that is David Smith of the RLA the Council might have arrived at a non-contentious scheme.
    Why is it that Councils don't seem to employ those who know what they are doing.
    These Councils seem to make it up as they go along!!
    It is about time that Govt came up with a template for all Councils to follow if wishing to introduce such schemes.
    It is ridiculous that there are so many different schemes.
    A nightmare for LL to navigate!

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    why is anyone surprized--councils employ losers

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    Agreed, they employ losers because they are the only people they can get, and the losers work for councils because they are the only jobs they can get, so they get on well together, we just have to fight them at every move.

     
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    It's not a new scheme and has been around for over 3 years (that was when I joined it). I think it has been around for over 10 years but there were very few members. I believe the granting of 5 year licences for members was to increase membership.

    When my membership ended in June 2018, I was told there was no need for me to attend a new training session to rejoin as there was nothing new. As some people may be aware, there was new regulations about room sizes for HMOs among other things. The Council may have still been operating under the assumption that the Housing Act 2017 (you have probably never heard of it - it is a non-existent Act of Parliament that the Council try to use to create conditions on HMO licences) introduced this requirement.
    On the 2 training sessions I went on, I educated the Council staff on several laws they knew nothing about. The scheme is aimed at landlords & agents of all property types. The section on HMOs lasts about 60-90 minutes.

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