Published: Friday, 1 September 2023

From today (Friday 1 September), private landlords must pay a higher licence fee to rent out homes in Oxford.

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

A new rate of £1,100 for a five-year licence now applies unless a home is newly rented within 12 weeks of a complete application, in which case the fee is £530.

The new rate replaces a £480 fee during the first year of the scheme. This was the result of consultation with landlords and agents, who told the council responsible landlords making early applications should not have to bear enforcement costs against those who applied late or not at all.

The council has received 10,840 licence applications. So far, it has issued 2,124 licences, 3,092 draft licences and 66 temporary exemption notices.

Enforcement and advice for tenants

Unlicensed landlords and agents are 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.

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 harassment and illegal eviction should email


“If you’re a private landlord or agent who hasn’t applied for a licence yet then you now face a higher fee of £1,100 for a five-year licence. You’re also at risk of enforcement action if your properties remain unlicensed.

“We had nearly 11,000 licence applications during the first year of our selective licensing scheme 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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