Published: Wednesday, 2 August 2023

Private landlords renting out homes in Oxford have less than a month to apply for a licence before a big rise in the application fee.

Oxford City Council’s 'selective licensing' scheme came into force in September 2022 and means all private rented homes in Oxford need a licence.

The council has received nearly 10,500 licence applications and says landlords and agents face a substantial increase in the application fee if they don’t apply by 1 September.

A standard fee of £480 for a five-year licence applies during the first year of the scheme.

A higher rate of £1,100 will apply from 1 September 2023 unless a home is newly rented within 12 weeks of the date of application, in which case the fee will be £530.

The current rate is the result of consultation with landlords and agents before the start of the scheme. They told the council responsible landlords and agents making an early application should not have to bear the costs of enforcement against those who applied late or did not apply at all.

So far, the council has issued 1,466 licences and 2,661 draft licences.

Enforcement and advice for tenants

Unlicensed landlords and agents are now at risk of enforcement action.

The council can issue financial penalties of up to £30,000 and the courts have the power to impose unlimited fines for unlicensed homes.

Tenants living in an unlicensed home can apply to a First Tier Tribunal for a rent repayment order (RRO). This allows them to claim back up to a year’s rent from their landlord for any period the home they live in is unlicensed.

Tenants can find out whether their home is licensed on the register of selective licences. There is a separate register for shared housing.

However, licences are not published on the register until they are issued and it does not include pending applications. Any tenant living in a home not on either register should email for further information and advice.

As well as RROs, unlicensed landlords and agents may have to repay any housing benefit paid to them by the council.

Unlicensed landlords cannot serve a section 21 ‘(no fault’) eviction notice. This means they cannot evade licensing rules by evicting tenants. Any tenant concerned about illegal eviction and harassment should email


“If you’re a private landlord or agent who hasn’t applied for a licence yet then you need to get a move on. Application fees increase from £480 to £1,100 on 1 September and you’re already at risk of enforcement action if your properties are unlicensed.

“We’ve already had nearly 10,500 licence applications and that’s great news for tenants and the majority of responsible landlords and agents. Everyone should have a decent home and tenants deserve the confidence of knowing that theirs is safe, in good condition and well managed.”  

Councillor Linda Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing

About selective licensing

Before September 2022 only houses in multiple occupation – shared houses – needed a licence, though these make up less than 15% of private rented homes in Oxford. Selective licensing means all privately rented homes need a licence to help ensure they are safe, properly maintained and well managed.

Licensing requires private landlords to show they are complying with the law by meeting safety and management standards, being a ‘fit and proper person’ and meeting council waste storage and disposal requirements.

Oxford is the only council in the country requiring a licence for all privately rented homes.

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