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.”