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.”