Only one-third of Oxford's private rental properties have been registered for its city-wide selective licensing scheme '� and could soon face steeper fees or a hefty fine.
The scheme, which launched last September, has received more than 10,500 licence applications from the 30,500 homes in Oxford's private rented sector, with the council warning landlords and agents that a big increase in the application fee kicks in on 1st September.
A standard fee of �480 for a five-year licence applies during the first year of the scheme and a higher rate of �1,100 will apply from September unless a property is newly rented within 12 weeks of the date of application.
Oxford Council is also warning that unlicensed landlords and agents are at risk of enforcement action as it can issue financial penalties of up to �30,000 while the courts have the power to impose unlimited fines.
Before last September only HMOs needed a licence to operate, although these make up less than 15% of private rented homes in Oxford. The authority then received Secretary of State approval for its controversial scheme which covers half (49.3%) of all Oxford's homes.
During its consultation, landlords and agents told the council that responsible landlords and agents making an early application should not have to bear the costs of enforcement against those who applied late or did not apply at all. So far, the council has issued 986 licences and about 2,000 draft licences.
Councillor Linda Smith (pictured), cabinet member for housing, says it's making good progress with issuing licences, but she adds: 'If you're a landlord or agent who hasn't applied yet then you need to get a move on. The application fee will increase from �480 to �1,100 on 1st September and you're already at risk of enforcement action if your properties are unlicensed.'�