This is an editorial from Oxford City Council's cabinet member for housing Linda Smith.

If you’re reading this at home in Oxford there’s a decent chance you’re renting from a private landlord.

Nearly a third of homes are privately rented and we know tenants put up with poor and sometimes dangerous conditions far too often.

Last year, we received 1,581 complaints about private rented homes.

That’s too many.

Oxford City Council is determined to drive up standards for private renters.

Everybody deserves a decent home.

Last September we introduced a citywide ‘selective licensing’ scheme.

Before then, only shared housing needed a licence.

Now, all private rented homes do.

We are the only council in England requiring this.

Selective licensing means landlords must show they comply with the law by meeting safety and management standards, being a ‘fit and proper person’ and meeting our waste storage and disposal requirements.

Selective licensing isn’t just good news for tenants.

It benefits the majority of responsible landlords doing a good job.

It creates a level playing field, one where tenants know their landlord is providing a safe home that’s well-run and in good condition.

So far we’ve had 10,500 licence applications.

Landlords and agents who haven’t applied yet need to get a move on.

The standard application fee for a five-year licence is now £480.

On 1 September this goes up to £1,100 unless we receive an application within 12 weeks of a property being newly rented.

In this case, the fee will be £530.

We introduced a lower first-year fee after consulting landlords and agents before selective licensing started. They said it would be unfair for responsible landlords to bear the costs of enforcement against those who applied late or not at all.

And yes, unlicensed landlords and agents are now at risk of enforcement action.

We can issue financial penalties of up to £30,000 and the courts can impose unlimited fines for unlicensed homes.

Tenants in unlicensed homes can apply for a rent repayment order. This allows them to claim back up to a year’s rent for any period their home is unlicensed.

Unlicensed landlords may have to repay any housing benefit we’ve paid them. And they won’t be able to issue ‘no fault’ eviction notices to get round our rules.

Tenants can find out whether their home is licensed on our register of selective licences. There’s a separate register for shared housing.

These registers don’t include pending licences. Tenants whose home is not on either register or who are concerned about harassment or illegal eviction should get in touch.

We’re here to help.

Oxford needs decent homes.

Selective licensing delivers.