HMO Licensing background
HMOs are a major concern in Oxford. According to national statistics Oxford has the 14th highest number of HMOs in England and Wales. Only the large metropolitan and unitary authorities and some London Boroughs contain more.
They form an unusually high percentage of houses in the city. An estimated 1 in 5 of the resident population live in an HMO. The House Condition Survey of 2005 reported that HMOs provided the poorest homes in the city and that 70% were unsafe. High demand for properties means that some landlords can offer these lower quality properties but still be confident of finding tenants.
In 2010, HMOs were responsible for over 2,000 service requests/complaints a year and the numbers of complaints had been rising steadily with surveys indicating that many problems went unreported. HMOs were also negatively affecting the neighbourhoods and communities, due to issues with rubbish and anti-social behaviour; problems which are aggravated by poor management of HMO properties. High densities of HMOs can also change the nature of an area and result in reduced community cohesion.
We were taking more prosecutions against landlords than any other council in England and Wales, and only a handful of major cities such as Liverpool and Manchester were issuing more legal notices to deal with HMOs. Despite this we were still receiving a higher volume of complaints than ever before.
We concluded we had used our existing powers to their full extent and concluded that we needed to do more.