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Labour council’s huge licensing plan divides opinion ahead of key vote

A Labour-controlled council says it’s confident a huge new licensing scheme for one of Britain’s most high-profile cities will be voted through today.

But it admits there’s a big clash of opinions between landlords and agents on the one hand, and the council and other respondents to a consultation exercise.

Oxford council will this afternoon decide whether to renew an additional licensing scheme for HMOs and bring in a new ‘selective licensing’ scheme covering all privately rented homes in the city. However, because the combined schemes are so large they will require government approval - a process that may take some months.


During a consultation, nearly two thirds of respondents agreed additional HMO licensing had been effective in improving conditions, with 72 per cent supporting renewal of the scheme. More than two thirds agreed with the introduction of selective licensing. 

Almost exactly 50 per cent of all Oxford’s homes are now privately rented and the council claims an independent review shows that 6,200 of the 30,500 homes in Oxford’s private rented sector “could” have a serious housing hazard.

In the last five years the council received 3,360 complaints from private renters about 2,990 properties – around one in 10 of all privately rented homes. During this time the council served 2,451 housing and public health notices and carried out 4,058 investigations into anti-social behaviour related to private rented housing.

Back in 2011 Oxford was the first English council to bring in a citywide additional licensing scheme requiring all HMOs to be licensed. If agreed by the council and the government, this new selective licensing scheme could be put in place for five years in 2022.

Oxford Labour councillor Alex Hollingsworth says: “We recognise there are strong differences of opinion between landlords and agents on the one hand, and tenants, residents and organisational representatives on the other. However there is broad consensus that there are issues in the private rented sector which do need addressing and we believe that licensing is the best way of doing this.”

And he continues: “Half of homes in Oxford are now privately rented, so bringing in licensing across the whole sector will help us to deliver on our plans to protect tenants, drive up standards and crack down on rogue landlords. A clear majority of tenants and residents agree with our approach and back our plans.

“But licensing isn’t just good for tenants and residents generally. Renewing additional HMO and licensing all privately rented homes will protect the majority of landlords and agents who do a good job. Tenants will have the confidence that they are responsible landlords and agents as rogue operators are driven out of the market.”

In the consultation there were 1,987 responses to an open consultation questionnaire, with another 53 letters and email submissions from stakeholders choosing to provide their views in writing.


- Regarding the renewal of the HMO licensing scheme, the consultation found 64 per cent of Oxford tenants and residents and 71 per cent of those responding from an organisation felt that additional HMO licensing had been effective in addressing issues in the private rented sector;

- Nearly three quarters of tenants and residents backed the renewal of additional HMO licensing, with 58 per cent strongly agreeing and 14 per cent tending to agree;

- Some 18 per cent strongly disagreed, six per cent tended to disagree and three per cent neither agreed nor disagreed;

- Support for additional HMO licensing was even stronger among organisational representatives, with 75 per cent agreeing or tending to agree with renewal and 25 per cent strongly or tending to disagree;

- The council claims that 45 per cent of landlords and 50 per cent of agents agreed that the additional HMO licensing scheme had been effective;

- A similar proportion endorsed renewal of the scheme, with 49 per cent of landlords and 44 per cent of agents agreed with this proposal, compared to 35 and 45 per cent respectively who disagreed;

- On a new selective licensing scheme, the consultation found 68 per cent of tenants and residents agreed with the introduction of selective licensing, with 56 per cent strongly agreeing and 12 per cent tending to agree; 

- A third of landlords (35 per cent) and agents (31 per cent) agreed with the principle of bringing in selective licensing, with more than half (55 per cent) of landlords and nearly o thirds (62 per cent) of agents disagreeing.

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  • icon

    I wonder whether they asked the question 'Would you support selective licensing if it increases your rent by £25 pcm?' ?

  • Bill Wood

    '6,200 of the 30,500 homes in Oxford’s private rented sector “could” have a serious housing hazard.'

    Actually, every home in Oxford "could" have a serious hazard.


    How about the council owned homes that likely will have serious hazards if Oxford are anything like Norwich

  • icon

    Bill, dearest they also said 50% of the Homes in Oxford are Privately Rented, so if 6'200 of the 30'500 privately Rented Homes could have serious hazards.
    Right please tell me how many of the other 30'500 Homes in Oxford have serious hazards, or do they just conveniently count one half, do me a favor.

  • icon

    Sorry Bill I don't want to be misunderstood I was not having a go at you.


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