A CRACKDOWN on dodgy landlords could lead to a database of all the 20,000 rented homes in Oxford being created.

Oxford City Council's proposals for the 'biggest change to private rented accommodation in a decade' are aimed at making unsafe and unlivable conditions (like those pictured) a thing of the past.

The plans launched yesterday could see every landlord of a privately rented home in the city having to register for a license.

Deputy leader of the council Linda Smith said the new scheme would provide a 'level playing field' for all landlords across the city.

Meanwhile one landlord has welcomed the plans but said the council needs to make sure its license requirements are achievable.

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The council currently requires landlords of houses of multiple occupation to have a licence.

These are properties have three or more unrelated people living together and are also known as HMOs.

The new plans would extend this licensing scheme to include everything from bedsits above shops, to rented family homes, to blocks of privately rented flats.

Oxford Mail:

Linda Smith.

The council has also outlined plans paid for by £71,000 of government funding from the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government to develop a computer algorithm which can identify homes in Oxford which may be privately rented.

The new licensing scheme and the algorithm would be used to create a complete map of all of Oxford's private rented homes.

Also funded by the government would be a lawyer who can help the council toughen up their processes for taking on rogue landlords.

The council is also proposing to tighten up energy efficiency in homes across the city by making sure all privately rented homes have an energy performance certificate.

According to the city council, there is an 'emerging trend' in rogue landlords across Oxford, who are dodging the current HMO licensing scheme.

Some of these landlords have started renting out their properties to families or couples instead, despite them being declared unfit to hold an HMO licence.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 33 per cent of Oxford homes were privately rented in 2017.

And a 2014 survey that looked at the condition of Oxford’s housing found 13 per cent of private rented homes are in a state of disrepair.

Ms Smith, who is also the council's cabinet member for housing and leisure said: “All we are proposing is to level the playing field so that every landlord in Oxford should have to be a fit and proper person and that their properties have the required certificates to show that they are safe for tenants."

“Obviously in an ideal world we wouldn’t need to ask for this information, but we have found countless examples across Oxford of homes where even these most basic of standards have not been met and vulnerable tenants have been left in illegal and dangerous conditions."

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Private landlord James Crook, who owns a five-bedroom HMO on Marston Street, said he thought extending the licensing scheme to all private landlords could be beneficial, as long as the conditions the council put on landlords were actually achievable.

Oxford Mail:

James Crook.

He also welcome the drive to improve environmental efficiency in Oxford's housing.

Mr Crook said: "I think it is important as housing stock in the UK is quite outdated. It just needs to be possible. If they are saying everyone needs to replace every window, then it is going to be too expensive."

Before the council's plans can go ahead, it will need to make the case to the UK government it should have the power to introduce the city-wide licencing scheme.

Three London boroughs have already done this successfully.

The council now plans to ask Oxford residents their opinions on the plans, with a public consultation planned later this year.

The council introduced its licensing scheme for HMOs in Oxford in 2010. At the time, it was the first council in the UK to do so.