Licence fees for private landlords renting out homes in Oxford more than doubled today as new city council rates came into force.

A new rate of £1,100 for a five-year licence now applies unless a home is newly rented within 12 weeks of a complete application, in which case the fee is £530.

Oxford City Council’s ‘selective licensing’ scheme came into force in September 2022 and means all private rented homes in Oxford need a licence.

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The new rate replaces a £480 fee during the first year of the scheme.

This was the result of consultation with landlords and agents, who told the council responsible landlords making early applications should not have to bear enforcement costs against those who applied late or not at all.

According to the city council, they have received 10,840 licence applications.

So far 2,124 licences, 3,092 draft licences and 66 temporary exemption notices have been issued.

Councillor Linda Smith, cabinet member for housing, said: “If you’re a private landlord or agent who hasn’t applied for a licence yet then you now face a higher fee of £1,100 for a five-year licence. You’re also at risk of enforcement action if your properties remain unlicensed.

“We had nearly 11,000 licence applications during the first year of our selective licensing scheme and that’s great news for tenants and the majority of responsible landlords and agents.

“Everyone should have a decent home and tenants deserve the confidence of knowing that theirs is safe, in good condition and well managed.”  

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Before September 2022 only houses in multiple occupation – shared houses – needed a licence, though these make up less than 15 per cent of private rented homes in Oxford.

Selective licensing means all privately rented homes need a licence to help ensure they are safe, properly maintained and well managed.

Licensing requires private landlords to show they are complying with the law by meeting safety and management standards, being a ‘fit and proper person’ and meeting council waste storage and disposal requirements.

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Oxford is the only council in the country requiring a licence for all privately rented homes.

Unlicensed landlords and agents are at risk of 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.

Tenants living in an unlicensed home can apply to a First Tier Tribunal for a rent repayment order (RRO).

This allows them to claim back up to a year’s rent from their landlord for any period the home they live in is unlicensed.