Selective licensing

Selective Licence application process and frequently asked questions

The Selective Licensing scheme will come into effect on 1 September 2022 and end on 31 August 2027 (midnight).

From 1 September 2022 to midnight on 30 November 2022, the Council will run a three month “early bird” scheme for applications.  The important requirement for landlords / agents / persons managing or controlling a house is to "duly make” an application – once the application is made, it is with the Council for processing and your licence will follow.

The application process for a Selective Licence will be:

  1. An application form, declaration must be completed, and stage 1 application fee must be paid. These three items are required for a duly made application.
  2. Landlords can send the gas safety certificate, electrical safety certificate and EPC with the application. These documents will be needed to qualify for the discounted licence fees.
  3. The application form, declaration and fee are checked, together with any other documents sent.
  4. A draft Selective Licence will be sent (this is called an “intention notice”). At this point, the stage two fee must be paid. Any eligible discount will be applied to the stage two fee. You can also make comments about the proposed conditions (these are called “representations”). There will be a minimum of 14 days to pay the stage two fee and make the representations.
  5. Any representations are considered and if needed, changes made to the licence.
  6. The actual licence is then issued. Licences will be issued for five years from the date of issue, not from the start of the scheme.
  7. The property will be prioritised for inspection.
  8. If you disagree with the licence conditions, you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal within 28 days of receiving the actual licence.

See information required to make an application for more information.

Process Times and Tacit Consent

We expect it could take up to 12 months to process and issue Selective Licence applications. We will work on a first received, first processed basis.

Tacit consent will not apply because the council must ensure that the licence holder and manager are “Fit and Proper Persons” and the house falls under the Selective Licensing scheme.

Is this a property licence or landlord licence?

It is the property that is licensed. A licence is issued to a named person for a named property. This is not a landlord licensing scheme where we issue one licence to a landlord to cover all the properties they own / manage within Oxford.

Why is it called "Selective Licensing"?

The term comes from the Housing Act 2004. The Housing Act 2004 allows the local authority to select all, or parts, of their area subject to these licensing controls. It refers to the “selection” of the area as opposed to the people who have to apply or properties covered.

You can find out more about why the council has introduced the scheme on our Selective Licensing background page.

I have an HMO licence, do I need a selective licence as well?

No. A property needs either an HMO licence or a selective licence.

Do flats require a licence?

Flats that are let on a tenancy or licence will be covered by the Selective Licensing scheme.

Where the flat is occupied by the lease-holder, then this is exempt and does not require a selective licence.

Where a building contains multiple flats, then each flat will need an individual licence. A block licence may be possible for a building with multiple flats.

How long will the licence be issued for?

The standard selective licence will be five (5) years from the date of issue. A one (1) year licence will be given where there are serious concerns regarding the proposed licence holder, management arrangements or conditions.


To qualify for the early bird and accreditation discounts, the Council requires all relevant safety certificates to be sent with the application. Providing the certificates with the application will help keep our costs low as it avoids a follow-up request and allows us to offer the discounts. Not supplying certificates will prioritise the property for inspection.

The certificates needed are:

  1. Gas Safey certificate, if gas installations provided by the landlord in the property. This is an annual certificate required by the The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
  2. Electrical Installation Inspection and Testing Report. From 01 April 2020 under The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 , private landlords have been required to ensure the electrical installation in the residential premises is inspected and tested at regular intervals by a qualified person with an inspection interval of no more than 5 years.
  3. Energy Performance Certificate, at Band E or above unless:
    1. There is a Registered Exemption for EPC regulations; or
    2. The property is exempt from the requirement to have an EPC e.g. the property does not require an EPC because it has not been marketed

What happens if I apply after 30 November 2022?

From 1 December 2022, applications will be charged at the standard fee.

From 1 January 2023, the Council will begin looking for unlicensed properties and the owners may be at risk of further enforcement action.

From 1 September 2023, applications will be charged at the higher fee unless the applicant can demonstrate the property has been occupied as a rented home for less than 12 weeks before the application was made – in these cases, the standard fee will apply.

Licence / property minimum standards

There are no national minimum licence / property standards for Selective Licensing (unlike HMO licensing which sets standards on minimum bedroom sizes, bathroom and kitchen facilities and fire precautions). However, there are a number of existing legal requirements that apply:

  1. Gas, electrical and EPC certificates as described above;
  2. A working smoke alarm on each storey where one or more rooms are used as living accommodation, as required by the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. The alarm must be checked at the start of each tenancy to ensure it is in working order. If the alarm is not working, action must be taken to ensure the alarm is in working order;
  3. If a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. coal fire / wood burner) is in the property, then a Carbon Monoxide Alarm is required by the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015;
  4. Any furnishings supplied as part of the tenancy must be compliant with the Furnishings and Fire Safety Regulations;
  5. Properties must be free from Category One hazards under the Housing Act 2004 Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

Further information and guidance will be developed for landlords.

Licence conditions

All Selective Licences include conditions specified in the Housing Act 2004. The Council can add “discretionary” conditions that relate to the management, use and occupation of the property. The Selective Licensing consulted included the proposed conditions. The Council approved the conditions in the March 2021 designations. The licence conditions formed part of the submission to the Secretary of State.

All Selective Licences will be bound by these conditions.


The Council will not inspect selective licence properties before issuing the licence. The property will be prioritised for inspection based on risk e.g. known poor history / complaints from tenants or failure to send certificates with application will lead to a higher priority while properties managed by accredited property owners/agents will have a lower priority.

For accredited agents with large portfolios, a number of properties will be inspected and audited each year.

Inspections will check that the property is free from Category One hazards and meets other legal requirements that apply to rented homes as described above.

If Category One hazards or higher level Category Two hazards are found, the Council will take further action to remove / reduce the hazards to an acceptable level. The Council may serve an Improvement Notice, for which there is a charge.

Further information and guidance will be developed for landlords.

Enforcement and consequences of failing to licence a property

Managing or controlling a property that is required to be licensed and is not so licensed is an offence under the Housing Act 2004. The consequences are:

  • Unlimited fine at Court or the Council can issue a financial penalty of up to £30,000
  • Occupants can apply for a rent repayment, from the date the scheme commenced (01 September 2022) and for no more than 12 months and up to the date the application was duly made.
  • Restriction on serving a s21 notice until an application has been duly made
  • From 01 September 2023, the higher fee will be the default charge unless the person can prove the property began operating as a rental home within 12 weeks of the application date.

Can I transfer a licence if I sell the property?

No. Under the Housing Act 2004, a licence is not transferable to another person. If a landlord sells the house and the new owner decides to rent the house, the new owner must apply for their own licence. If the agent is the licence holder and the owner of a property / landlord changes the agent, the licence cannot be transferred and a new application will have to be made.

My property is let on a pre 1985 Housing Act tenancy - is this included?

Pre Housing Act 1985 tenancies, such as tenancies under the Rent Act 1977 and the Housing Act 1980 fall within selective licensing.

My property is let on a pre 1985 Housing Act tenancy - is this included?

Yes. The exemptions under the 2006 Order do not include a common law tenancy where the rent is £100,000 a year and therefore included within selective licensing unless the tenancy falls within another exemption.

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