Who should apply for a licence

The Housing Act does not state who should apply - it says who commits an offence if the property is not licensed.

Any person who is “in control” or “managing” a house that is required to be licensed but is not so licensed commits an offence.

If you receive rent, whether because you own the house or are an agent or any other person receiving rent, then you are a person in control or managing a house.

This means the legal obligation to ensure an application is made so the house becomes licensed is with any person who receives rent.

The landlord or agent is usually the person who applies for the licence. The person who completes the application form is known as the “applicant”.

Who should hold the licence

The person who holds the licence is the “licence holder”. Usually the landlord (owner) of the property or their managing agent holds the licence.

The legislation makes it clear that the proposed licence holder must be “fit and proper”, and the most appropriate person to hold the licence.

The licence holder does not have to be the owner and could be another person however the person should be “the most appropriate” person. This means the person who has control of the property. This is usually the person who receives the rent. They will be bound by the licence conditions and should be competent.

A relative of an owner can hold the licence - providing they are in control of the property.

A licence can be issued to a registered company or registered charity (or any other “person in law”) instead of an individual. In these cases, the council has to be satisfied that the directors of the company are fit and proper persons.

Where a landlord lives overseas, it may be possible for them to be the licence holder depending on the management arrangements. The licence holder must be fit and proper and demonstrate satisfactory management arrangements exist. If there is a UK managing agent (preferably a reasonable distance from Oxford) who has full management control and applies for the licence on your behalf then this is likely to be granted. If landlords do not have a UK management agent with full control then the landlord must still legally make an application and must explain their arrangements and we will consider the arrangements. All overseas landlord applications will be decided on a case-by-case basis by a senior officer. Further guidance will be developed and available with the application guidance.

Second declaration (counter sign-off) requirement where the application is made on behalf of someone else

The person who completes the application form is the applicant. The licence holder is the person that will hold the licence. Where an application is made on behalf of someone else, then both the applicant and named licence holder must sign the application form to declare the information is correct and truthful.

The applicant will complete the form online. We will then write to the named licence holder to require them to follow a web-link to review and sign the application form.

It is only once the licence holder has counter-signed the application that the application is considered “duly made” and we can start to process the licence.

Failure to counter-sign the application will lead to the application being withdrawn. At this point, a new application must be made and a new fee will be required.

What is a fit and proper person?

The licence holder must be 'fit and proper'. The Housing Act 2004 looks at:

  • unspent convictions for fraud, dishonesty, violence, drugs, sexual offences act 2003
  • findings by a court or tribunal where the person has been involved with any unlawful discrimination on grounds of sex; colour; race; disability; ethnic or national origins
  • judgements made by a court or tribunal relating to housing, public health, environmental health, or landlord and tenant Law
  • where a property has been subject to an interim or final management order
  • Banning Orders
  • previous refusals to licence or failing to comply with licence conditions

Contact the Property Licensing Team

Address: Property Licensing Team
Regulatory Services and Community Safety
Oxford City Council
Town Hall
St Aldate's

Telephone: 01865 252285

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