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RLA warns Oxford accreditation scheme is “unlawful”

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

A landlord accreditation scheme in Oxford is both discriminatory and unlawful, says the RLA.

The association has written to Oxford Council to oppose the scheme on the grounds it includes conditions which breach European directives.

In Oxford, all landlords of houses of multiple occupation (HMO) are required to obtain a licence, in order to rent out their property lawfully. An estimated one in five of the city’s population live in an HMO.

Under the current scheme, private landlords in Oxford accredited by the council are able to obtain a longer HMO licence, than those who are not, even if landlords are able to demonstrate expertise in alternative ways such as through training.

In a letter to the council, the RLA argues that this is an unfair and unlawful policy, because longer HMO licences offer a financial and practical benefit for landlords, yet only landlords who are members of the Council’s accreditation scheme can benefit from these longer licences at the moment.

The scheme also includes a condition demanding landlords attend training sessions to become accredited.  The RLA has warned that this discriminates against landlords who live outside of Oxford or the UK but rent property out in the city and breaches the EU Service Directive, which clearly states that accreditation and licensing ‘cannot be provided in a way which discriminates based on country of establishment’.

The RLA is now calling for the authority to review the plan as a matter of urgency.

David Smith, Policy Director for the RLA said:

“It is very concerning that there are so many apparent illegalities in Oxford City Council’s accreditation scheme.

“The RLA strongly urges the local authority to review the scheme and would welcome the chance to meet with council representatives to discuss our concerns further”.

The RLA has threatened the council with judicial review, should Oxford City Council not take action.

Last year, the RLA threatened Great Yarmouth Borough Council with a judicial review over serious concerns with its selective licensing scheme.

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.


  • I am an Oxford landlord but won’t pay for HMO inspections and licences ( and accreditation courses) because I can rent to families. The big problem is that in Oxford three sharers in a house make it an HMO whereas most people assume an HMO is a large house split into bedsits or a student house with five or six people. This means that the average 1930s semi-detached house needs a licence if three unrelated tenants live there but not if one family live there. A letting agent told me that Oxford City Council’s licence scheme is ‘money for old rope’. The new cap on deposits makes me plan to sell up when current tenants leave. I’ve enjoyed being a landlord for 20 years but I see my rights as property owner being eroded, and the Section 21 proposals confirm that I’m not over-reacting.

  • Victoria, Bristol Council are introducing a scheme where landlords in selected areas will have to obtain a license to run an HMO. However my house is NOT an HMO and meets none of the normal HMO criteria. However Bristol are saying for the purposes of this license it is judged to be an HMO and I must buy a license at a cost of several thousands of pounds or face a punitive penalty. Is this lawful? Also if I buy this license will I then be liable to have to introduce all the requisite measures for an HMO?

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