The city of dreaming spires is set to introduce a blanket selective licensing scheme following a consultation last year that revealed strong backing for the scheme among tenants and residents. It also plans to renew its existing HMO licensing scheme.

But because of the size of its proposed selective licensing scheme, the council will then have to seek approval from the Secretary of State before going live, most likely in early 2022.

During the council consultation, two thirds of Oxford residents who were canvassed said they’d back greater regulation of the private rental market there via a selective licensing scheme, while 72% supported the additional licensing scheme for HMOs to be renewed.

Oxford has an unusual housing market, largely due to the very high concentration of students living in the city, where nearly half of all homes are rented.

Housing hazard

A survey of rented homes last year found that a fifth of its 30,00-odd privately rented homes featured a serious housing hazard, and that one in every ten tenancies had been reported to the council over low standards of housing or property management.

In 2011 Oxford was the first English council to bring in a citywide additional licensing scheme requiring all HMOs to be licensed. The adoption of selective licensing would mark the biggest change to Oxford’s private rented sector since additional HMO licensing.

Oxford council says that, despite Covid, it has worked hard to canvass a wide variety of people involved in the PRS on the proposals. This has included landlords, agents, industry associations, residents and resident’s groups, private tenants, third sector organisations, advice agencies, registered housing providers, councillors, businesses and neighbouring councils.

“We recognise there are strong differences of opinion between landlords and agents on the one hand, and tenants, residents and organisational representatives on the other,” says Councillor Alex Hollingsworth (pictured), cabinet member for planning and housing delivery.

“However there is broad consensus that there are issues in the private rented sector which do need addressing and we believe that licensing is the best way of doing this.”

Read more about Oxford.


  1. Just another chance uk private government exploitation on small landlords the hmo licence is ok but the fee is a absolute rip off!! £600/700 per a flat ?? Whats this fee for ?? I had to fill that long hmo licence form! Which by the way is to long and is the main reason all the rent went up . And this new EPC energy c is BS most of the properties are over 200 years old . My advice is start looking aboard for investments in the property game
    UK is finished for the next generation in my opinion. If you managed to save up abit and still have a drive in you. pack up venture out of the uk. I have a apartment in spain and property in Pakistan bringing in steady rent it can be done

  2. Many councils are at war with landlords. These council officers are getting pay rises and promotions for introducing Licensing schemes. Like a plague of locusts, they then move on to other councils and introduce schemes there. Who pays for all of this? It pushes up rents and increases costs.

    Has Licensing worked? In my local council, I reported a water leak from the flat above which went for 18 months, which was rented out by another landlord. My council did nothing against this rogue landlord. My tenant suffered due to constant water leak. The lights were flickering. I was powerless. Solicitors were of no help. My council said it was a private matter between neighbours and washed their hands off it!. So why waste money introducing these licensing schemes. The council made millions, but put nothing back. That rogue landlord is still operating.

    Another landlord, received a letter from the council, to say they are are doing an audit. He was to provide the council with all the tenancy paperwork, tenancy, gas certificate, epc etc… within 30 days or face a fine of £20,000 (nice friendly letter). He sent them everything.

    The council responded, by saying the landlord had failed to provide them with original references for these tenant. This was part of the licensing condition. A landlord cannot rent a property out without getting references. The landlord explained, the tenant lived there for 18 years. This was all before the licensing scheme came in. The tenant is of good character, otherwise his tenancy would not be running for 18 years. The council was adamant they provide the references or face a £5,000 fine for failure to comply with licensing conditions. What does this have to do with housing conditions???

    The only people who get frustrated by licensing schemes are the landlords who have to follow their wretched licensing schemes. There is no complaints procedure. Most landlords, are bullied into following the councils way of doing things. If their IT system falls over, they will never apologise or help. If they don’t answer call, they don’t care.

    Landlords have seen unfair tax rises. Landlords can’t get the property back due to COVID and if the tenant is getting no support. If a landlord has a non paying tenant and if they are unemployed, there is no state help.

    You can’t have a system where you punish bad landlords over housing conditions, but a landlord who is victim to a tenant who wrecks the property has no support.

    I will applaud any scheme which is fair and balanced to landlord and tenant.


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