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.

Can the licence be in joint names?

The licence can only be issued to one named person. Joint owners would have to nominate one owner to be the licence holder.

Are licences transferrable if we want to change the Licence Holder?

Under the Housing Act 2004, licences are non-transferrable once issued. If you would like to nominate a different person to hold the licence than the named licence holder in the initial application form, please notify us before the licence is issued. Once the licence has been issued, we will not be able to change the licence holder for any reason.

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 for the same property?

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 leaseholder or freeholder, then this is exempt and does not require a Selective Licence. Please see the Exemptions page for more information on exemptions from Selective Licensing.

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.

I am a tenant, if I complain about disrepair will the Council tell my landlord?

Property licensing means that the Council can undertake property inspections without a tenant having to complain. Inspections are undertaken with the landlord present, but the Council will not inform your landlord if a complaint has been made. However, in all cases we would encourage you to speak to your landlord about any disrepair where possible. 

If I have applied and you have not issued the licence, can I still rent or advertise the property or serve a s21?

Once the application is made, the legal duty on the landlord has been fulfilled. You can then let the property and advertise for letting. You can also serve a section 21 notice.

Do I need a licence to advertise a property for let? Can a tenancy agreement be signed without a licence/application and when do I apply?

You can advertise the property and sign a tenancy agreement without a licence or application. The application can be made up to 4 weeks before or 12 weeks after the tenant moves in, however we will accept applications once an agreement is signed. The signed tenancy agreement must be provided with the application.

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.

How do I prove I am eligible for the Standard Fee instead of the Higher Fee?

Applications will be charged the standard fee (reflected in the stage two fee) where the below conditions are met:

1.    The application is submitted up to 4 weeks before or 12 weeks after the tenancy start date

2.    The application is submitted with signed tenancy agreements

Can a non-resident UK person (overseas landlord) hold a licence?

This may be possible depending on the management arrangements. The licence holder must be fit and proper and demonstrate satisfactory management arrangements exist.

The proposed licence holder must have an address in the UK at which they can receive legal notices and correspondence and must have an email address to accept electronic service of documents.

If the landlord employs a UK managing agent (preferably a reasonable distance from Oxford) who has full management control then we advise the agent applies for the licence on your behalf.  

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 these arrangements.

As part of the application, we require a statement to explain how the non-resident landlord will manage the property. Where there is a managing agent, we have developed this overseas landlord declaration for both the landlord and agent to sign and upload with the application (under the “other” document category). If a landlord does not use a managing agent, then we recommend you read the declaration and write a statement to explain how you undertake the actions that the managing agent is expected to do. This can be a word document and you upload with the application (under the “other” document category).

All overseas landlord applications will be decided on a case-by-case basis by a senior officer.

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.

If the licence holder dies, what happens to the licence?

The licence would need to be revoked. Under the Housing Act 2004, a licence is not transferable to another person for any reason. There is an automatic three month temporary exemption where the licence holder passes away during the licence period, with the three months beginning on the date of death. At the end of the three months, a second exemption may be granted. However, at the end of the six months an application for a licence must be made regardless of any estate / probate ongoing matters.

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 common law tenancy - is this included?

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

My property is an Oxford City Council Homechoice property - is this included?

Yes. While the Council may assist with finding tenants, arranging the tenancy and other matters, the actual tenancy is between the landlord and the occupant. It is not a tenancy granted by the Council.

I have a single person living in my property, do I need a licence?

Yes, If the property is occupied by a single person, or a single family on a non – exempt tenancy it will need a selective licence

I have 2 persons sharing my property, do I need a licence?

Yes, If the property is occupied by two persons on non – exempt tenancies it will need a selective licence

I am a resident landlord and share my home with one lodger, do I need a licence?

No, if you share basic amenities with your lodger in your home, where you are the owner, you do not need a licence.

I am a resident landlord and share my home with two lodgers, do I need a licence?

No, if you share basic amenities with your lodger in your home, where you are the owner, you do not need a licence.

My house is occupied by my son and two lodgers. Do I need a licence?

No, if the house is occupied my a member of the owner’s family then the same rule applies as though the owner lived in the property themselves.

My house is occupied by my son’s wife’s niece and one lodger. Do I need a licence?

Yes, you son’s wife’s niece is not considered your family member, therefore a licence would be required.

I am required to live away for my employment. I rent my house out while away. Do I need a licence?

Yes, where the property is let on a tenancy then a licence is required. It makes no difference why you decided to rent the house out.

I rent out an annexe / self-contained flat which is part of my house. I am an owner occupier. Do I need a licence for the annexe / flat?

Yes. You do not share basic amenities (kitchen or bathroom) or living accommodation (living / dining room) with the tenant. This would not be classed as a lodger and a licence is needed.

I have a live in carer. They do not pay rent however contribute to household bills. Do I need a licence?

 No, this would not be a tenancy.

If a landlord resides in the UK and applies for the licence in their name, then subsequently decided to live overseas, would the license have to be transferred to the letting agent / another person? If so, what would the cost be?

Providing the landlord can demonstrate satisfactory management arrangements (e.g. full management agreement with agent) then the person could continue to hold the licence. We may need to vary the licence to add the managing agent details (if not already on the licence). A variation would be free. If the landlord cannot demonstrate satisfactory management arrangements, then someone else would need to hold the licence. As licences are non-transferrable, this would require the existing licence to be revoked and a new application at the standard application fee.

How will you get landlords to apply for a licence?

We will publicise the scheme to make landlords aware of their obligations before the scheme starts.

Where applications are not forthcoming, the Council will investigate the properties we have reason to believe should be licensed.  This may include an unannounced visit to the property or letters to the owners to make them aware of their obligations.

If this does not lead to an application then failure to licence properties can lead to a prosecution or a civil (financial) penalty. It may also affect any decision regarding existing or future licences. Tenants can also apply to claim their rent back (rent repayment order) for the period the property was unlicensed, or housing benefit can be ordered to be repaid.

Can I pay the licence fee in instalments?

The licence fee will be paid in two instalments, one at application and the second when the draft license is issued. No further instalments are possible.

As a landlord what are my responsibilities in relation to Anti-social Behaviour (ASB)? 

Licensing in Oxford is primarily seeking to improve the property condition. Reducing ASB is a secondary benefit of the licensing scheme. Anti-social Behaviour can adversely impact on the local community. As a landlord you have an important role in ensuring that your property does not have a negative effect on the neighbourhood. The council will be developing a good practice guide for landlords and managing agents to help you address any anti-social behaviour arising from your rented properties.  

For example, ensuring the tenants know which days to put out waste and recycling and what can and can’t be placed in waste / recycling bins; including clauses in the tenancy about neighbourly behaviour and not causing anti-social behaviour, responding to complaints about waste and noise; co-operating with requests from the council, police or other authorities in response to anti-social behaviour issues. Ultimately, taking action to evict tenants in the most serious cases where issues are not resolved.

Can neighbours or tenants object to a licence?

No. This is not part of the requirements of the Housing Act 2004. They may have information the council considers, however they cannot make an objection - this is different to planning permission applications.

Landlord Forum Questions and Answers

The presentation slides from the Selective Licensing Landlord Forum are available to download.

Q. “Holiday lets” exemption – what is meant by a holiday let?

A. Legal Services have interpreted a holiday let is a short let, where the duration of the stay in less than 90 days. Please note, there are also restrictions on planning use with holiday / short lets as well.  

Q. How regular is a regular inspection? 

A. This depends on your property and tenants. The licence conditions will require once every 6 months.

Q. What is the requirements for smoke alarms and testing?  What happens in tenant has been there for 5 years with a smoke alarm and testing, what duty do we have? Do you need a heat detector in the kitchen?

A. Under the Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide regulations, there must be a smoke alarm on every storey (floor) used as living accommodation and the smoke alarms must be tested on the first day of a new tenancy. From 01 October 2021, in addition, if the alarms are reported or found to be faulty the landlord has a duty to replace / repair the alarms.

These requirements apply even if the tenant has been there for a long time. If you sign a new tenancy then this means you need to test the alarm on the start date of the new tenancy. If it is a rolling periodic tenancy then the repair obligation commences from 01 October 2018.

Although battery alarms are acceptable, under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System then battery alarms are likely to lead to a higher risk and landlords are likely to be asked to install mains powered alarms.

There is no requirement for a heat detector as part of the licence, unlike for HMOs. However depending on property layout and other risk factors then a heat detector may be required under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

Q. If you have several properties to licence, will there be allowance for a longer time to apply?

A. If landlords or agents have more than 50 properties then you can ask for a phasing agreement however you must ask for this before 1 September 2022.

Q. When will the Council be proactively looking for unlicensed properties?

A. This work will start in 2023.

Q. There has been a sitting tenant in my property , since 1994. What happens in these situations? What if the condition is poor, what happens? 

A. The property will require a licence however if the condition is poor and the tenant is responsible for certain repairs or is unwilling to have repairs then we are likely to serve a suspended notice. This means the landlord does not need to do the repairs until the tenant leaves.

Q. How do we get the accreditation discount? 


All the below criteria must be met to receive the accreditation discount:

ACCREDITATION: You must be accredited with one of the accepted schemes at the time of application and throughout the duration of the licence. Alternatively, the discount would be applied where the property is fully managed by an accredited agent at the time of application and throughout the duration of the licence. Where the landlord holds the accreditation then you will need to submit a copy of the accreditation certificate with the application. Where the agent holds the accreditation then this is published on our website. The licence holder must also ensures that accreditation is held throughout the duration of the licence, either by the Licence Holder or managing agent with full management control. 

SAFETY CERTIFICATES: The application must be submitted with all required safety certificates, all certificates must be signed and in-date to be accepted. See the Accreditation page for more information on Safety Certificates required.

TENANCY AGREEMENTS: The application must be submitted with signed tenancy agreements to show that the tenancy started up to 4 weeks before or 12 weeks after the application date.

Q. The requirement on the application to inform interested parties - when do you inform the interested party, how and who?  Does it include tenants? 

A. A relevant interested party is a person (person in law, so includes mortgage and other legal entities) and must be named on the application. You must inform them before you make the application or soon after. It only includes tenants if there tenancy or lease has a fixed term of 3 years or more.

Q. Why do you need the licence holder Date of birth?

A. For identification purposes.

Q. What’s a habitable room? 

A. A room used as living or sleeping accommodation – basically any room that is not a kitchen or bathroom.

Q. Do you need to add every room?

A. Yes, you need to add every room

Q. How do I apply for a temporary exemption notice?

A. A temporary exemption can be applied for via the application system.

Q. What happens if number of occupants change after application made in the 5yrs of licence, do I need to inform the Council  of the new occupancy number?

A. If the occupancy number increases then we will need to be informed to ensure the accommodation is suitable. It does not matter if the occupancy number decreases. The licence gives a permitted maximum.

Q. Payment - is there an alternative to payment by credit/debit card payment?

A. No there is no alternative unless you are on a phasing agreement, where you have more than 50 applications to make.

Q. If you have more than one application, can you pay all together? 

A. You can complete up to 8 applications on the system at one time. You then stop and pay for these 8. If you have more than 8 then you start again. E.g. if you have 14 applications then you complete 8, pay for these and then complete the remaining 6 and pay. The limit of 8 is set by the payment system.

Q. If you use an accredited agent- do you still get the discount?

A. Yes, providing the application is made by 30 November 2022 and all required documents submitted.

Q. Where does the money go and will it improve the properties in the city?

A. The money can only be used to pay for the operation and enforcement of the scheme. The money pays for the processing and inspecting officer, including ICT etc. The properties will be inspected and through this, improvements will be asked for.

Q. How will you capture those landlords who have not attended the forum?

A. We will be commencing an advertising campaign during the early bird including radio, bus adverts and hopefully press coverage.

Q. Will the Licence Holders name and address be made public and if so do I have control over the publishing of my name on the licence register?

A. Regulations require the name and the address of the licence holder and manager, if different, are published. You cannot ask for the information to be withheld. Legal Services have advised that address means “ the place the person is normally to be found” – that means, for a person your normal residential address or for a business, the usual place of business.

Q. Can future landlord events be live streamed and / or recorded?

A. It is unlikely we can live-stream events however presentations are always available after each event. If possible, these may be recorded presentations.

Q. I’ve read on the website the EPC must be a D however you have stated an E. Which is correct?

A. For licensing, the minimum requirement is an E. However for landlords who wish to be accredited under our OCLAS scheme then we require all properties to have an EPC of D. This is to fit in with Oxford City Council’s ambitions on sustainability and zero carbon.

Q. For the requirement to obtain tenant references - what is acceptable?

A. The requirement is to demand (ask) for references, not obtain. It is up to the landlord if the reference given is acceptable. It is also acceptable for the landlord to give a tenancy agreement even if the person does not provide a reference, following the request.

Q. Where there is a leasehold for the flat and there is a different freeholder liable for the common parts then as a licence holder, will I become liable for disrepair in common parts?

A. Typically where we investigate a report of disrepair in these cases we would attempt to make contact with the block manager to resolve this if that is the agreement in place.

Q. I do not have access to a computer. Is there another way for me to apply?

A.  You can use a public computer at a library or use your tablet or smartphone, or ask a friend or relative to apply for the licence on your behalf. If this is not possible, please contact us for further advice. However it is expected that as landlords are considered a business they should be able to operate electronically.

Q. What happens if the landlord moves abroad during the licence?

A.The landlord (licence holder) would be required to notify us and explain the change in circumstances. We would decide if the management arrangements are satisfactory, as in the above section on overseas landlords. All decisions are made on a case by case basis.

Q. Do I need to apply if I am required to live away for my job and rent my home while I live elsewhere?

A. A licence is required. There is no exemption for persons who rent out their home while they live elsewhere for work purposes.

Q. Does the scheme cover studio flats?

A. Yes, studio flats are included.

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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