Landlords threaten legal action over ‘unfair’ licensing scheme

Oxford City Council is being threatened with legal action over its landlord licensing scheme.

All landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupation in Oxford are required to obtain a licence but only those accredited by the council are able to obtain a longer five-year licence, which works out cheaper.

The scheme also includes a condition that landlords attend training sessions to become accredited.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has written to the council to warn that it is unfair that only accredited landlords get more favourable rates even if others are able to demonstrate expertise in alternative ways.

The RLA also claims that mandating for accredited landlords to attend training discriminates against landlords who live outside Oxford but let property in the city.

The membership body said that this breaches the EU Service Directive, which states that accreditation and licensing “cannot be provided in a way which discriminates based on country of establishment”.

The RLA said it would launch a judicial review if the council fails to respond.

It comes after the RLA threatened Great Yarmouth Borough Council with a judicial review last year over concerns that landlords would have to apply for licences from a third party. This policy was later overturned.

David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said: “It is very concerning that there are so many apparent illegalities in Oxford City Council’s accreditation scheme.

“The RLA strongly urges the local authority to review the scheme and would welcome the chance to meet with council representatives to discuss our concerns further.”

Ian Wright, head of regulatory services and community safety at Oxford City Council, said: “We received a letter from the RLA and responded on April 23 offering a meeting to discuss the matters raised.

“It is disappointing that the RLA has chosen to issue a press release before meeting with us, but we are obviously still happy to meet with them.

“Our HMO licensing scheme aims to protect tenants and ensure their homes are in good repair and meet fire, gas and electrical safety standards.

“We developed the system following lengthy consultation with local landlords, who requested that we reward landlords who do more to look after their tenants with lower fees and longer licences.

“We took these comments on board when we designed the system.”

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3 Comments

  1. DarrelKwong43

    I assume the RLA  are upset because they don’t provide the training.  It’s good to increase landlords knowledge and challenging an incentive to attend training will only decrease the chance a landlord will attend.

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  2. qweasdzxc

    I’ve been on Oxford’s Landlord Accreditation training twice (I was told I had to attend every year of my 2 year accreditation). The Council staff learnt a lot both days.

    After my first accreditation ended in 2018, I was told I didn’t need to attend any training. This was just before changes were coming in for HMOs (which I operate) such as the room size limit and extended mandatory licencing.

    The Council thought there was something called the Housing Act 2017 and were trying to implement the things they thought were in the Act.

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  3. Aurora12

    The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has written to the council to warn that it is unfair that only accredited landlords get more favourable rates even if others are able to demonstrate expertise in alternative ways.

    My interpretation of the RLA statement is that they ACCEPT that non-accredited landlords can hold the same/more knowledge – gained from other sources, as accredited L/Lords. I put myself in that category, as many responsible landlords will be.

    Coventry City Council are also proposing discounted Additional HMO – and Selective – Licencing Fees, but the criteria for the 5 yr. Fee proposed, includes the requirement for LL’s to be Accredited members of their own schemes (such as RLA/NAL’s, etc.) , not just “members” – in addition to becoming a member of the association the Council is intending to set up (offering free training annually). They’re suggesting a minimum number of CPD hours annually with a LL’s own association – which will obviously mean an ongoing, additional, financial cost to the LL. Definitely discriminatory [all current legal knowlege is accessible free online through many property/housing/government websites].

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