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Controversial council wants every single private rental home licensed

Private landlords applied for licences covering more than 12,000 homes during the first year of a controversial council’s selective licensing scheme.

The Oxford city-wide scheme came into force in September 2022 and means all private rented homes in Oxford now need a licence. Oxford is the only council in the country requiring a licence for all private rented homes. 

The number of applications during the first year of the scheme exceeded expectations according to a council statement. Private landlords and agents made 10,896 applications covering over 12,300 homes – more than a third higher than expected.


This included 9,057 applications during an initial ‘early bird’ period where lower licence fees were offered as an incentive. 

The council issued 2,138 final licences during the first year of selective licensing. It expects to issue licences for the remaining ‘early bird’ applications in the next six months - to date, 5,925 licences have been issued. 

The council claims to have investigated 83 cases, with 49 licence applications made and 16 exempt. The remaining cases are still under investigation. 

During the first year, property inspections were carried out in response to complaints, with 36 of 61 properties (59%) found to have a serious housing hazard. The council says it is now ramping up this work and aims to inspect 60% of licensed homes over the five years of the selective licensing scheme.  

Before September 2022 only HMOs needed a licence, though these make up less than 15% of private rented homes in Oxford. 

A statement from the Labour-run authority says unlicensed landlords and agents are now at risk of proactive 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. 

“Our selective licensing scheme is a crucial step in raising the bar for quality standards in private rented homes. We are committed to ensuring safe, decent homes for private tenants. The majority of landlords and agents do a good job and have nothing to fear from selective licensing. I’m encouraged that so many made licence applications during the first year of the scheme and I’d like to thank them all” says Linda Smith, responsible for housing on the council.

“If you’re a landlord or agent who hasn’t applied yet, what are you waiting for? We’re now taking enforcement action and you’re running the risk of an unlimited fine if your properties aren’t licensed.” 

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    Labour council raising money from the PRS. Bristol will no doubt follow. 😡

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    Landlords have nothing to fear. Except have to shell out a load of dosh

    Robert Black

    Not unexpected after all we have loads of money.... Not!


    We have the same amount of money as any Council - what we can get from all those who pay us - but unlike councils we're a bit more responsible and efficient in how we use it.

    Jo Clark

    The dodgy landlords will have something's to fear.

    Malcolm Stretten

    Councils have a bloody cheek "licensing" landlords. They are often some of the very worst landlords, with many of their tenants living with damp and mould and even infestation of vermin.

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    Thieving under the guise of social responsibility 🆘💵💰🤷‍♂️

  • John  Adams

    And of course ignoring their own appalling record on maintaining social housing as usual. If you are a Council Tenant in Oxford and have an issue, I highly encourage you to seek out one of these conditional fee agreement solicitors to take the council to court.

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    Usual lefty council bandits harassing and looting the PRS whilst shamelessly ignoring their own tenants slum conditions.

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    Nothing more than a grubby money grab by a left wing council, who try and sell licensing as protecting PRS tenants, when the reality is that the LL is forced to pass on all these additional costs imposed by the council to the tenants in the form of increased rent. In turn when the LL is forced to increase the rent due to regulations tax, licensing etc, these same left wing politician then claim its greed on the part of LL's that's pushing up prices and demand the right to impose rent caps.

    Isn't it ironic that that vast majority of poor quality housing cases, are brought by tenants of council run property not PRS property and these are the very same people that now want to charge licensing fees to the PRS for policing the PRS, in order to make certain that the PRS keeps their property up to standards, which the councils themselves are failing to do. HIPOCRACY!!!!!

    Please can we some trustworthy grown-ups to lead the councils and country who don't lie at every opportunity..

    Robert Black

    You are asking a lot Too much It will not change!! :-(

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    Councils lie about this!

    Firstly, they lie about it's benefits for the community because none of them has ever published anything to demonstrate success of any kind... and more importantly when you demand they detail improvements they can't!

    Secondly, they lie about the revenue and costs but strenuously argue it's not about making money for their coffers! In Manchester for example they were making c£2m per annum with a staff of six in an office but argued it made no profit for the council. I offered to run the staff of six from an office for half that amount so that they would either make over £1m profit per year or they could half the cost charged to landlords.... and they were not interested

    This brings up the elephant in the room... distrust! Landlords in general completely distrust the councils and for good reason... and yet council after council launch schemes to "work with the private sector" and cannot understand why such schemes fail. It's like they live in their own delusion where they're nice to landlords whilst shafting them, making money from them whilst lying and still think they're doing a good job!!

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    If this came into force I would sell all my properties. For me this would be the final straw.


    It is coming..
    No doubt about it.. It is complete nonsense.. The way to address bad landlords is to address how rent benefit is paid. Currently slum landlord properties get thr sane amount of benefit as the properties of good landlords who let to benefit claimants.. Universal licensing wont stop that. The Council can't inspect every private rental.. Instead only properties receiving rent benefit should require a licence.. That smaller pool of properties could be more effectively subjected to random inspections..
    And Councils should have to right to reduce the rent benefit payable on the property (n.b not on the tenancy) until the property is improved.. In London there are million pound rental properties around the corner from ex council flats.. Universal licensing is an absurb waste of resources.

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    A socialist society and government. Time to get your capital out of the country where it will work better.


    Bye! Have a beautiful time! 👋🏻

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    Is this the way every LA will go if people are fool enough to vote Labour??

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    Just a wad of cash for the councillors to waste somewhere. Or buy things just for them . Like a new swivel chair.

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    Problems with bad landlords in the PRS are overwhelmingly at the bottom "rent benefit" end of the market. Instead of licensing all properties, only those properties wishing to let to benefit claimants should require a licence. If a tenant becomes benefit dependant after moving in to a property, they should be able to get a licence free on behalf of the landlord (there wouldn't be many of these).. Further, rent benefit should be paid at two rates..A basic rate based on size (as it currently is) and a higher rate based on quality.. That way, being a low quality landlord would be very discouraged.

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    Peter. I think in the past it was usually slum landlords that rent to Councils other landlords would avoid Council and if it was a good property it wouldn’t take long to make it a slum with kids writing on the wall and breaking things a kin to Council housing how do you maintain a property if the occupants don’t care. Some don’t respect anything they get for nothing.

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    Also don’t agree with the idea that they are protecting PRS Tenants clearly they have caused thousands to lose their rented property by forcing hundreds of thousands of landlords to sell up or no option but to massively increase rents to pay the costs unfairly imposed on them by Regulators.


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