Oxford City council swamped by HMO registrations

Oxford City Council, the first local authority to introduce licensing of every HMO in its territory, has been swamped with applications.

At the end of January, the council made it mandatory for every rental property with three or more unrelated sharers to be licensed as an HMO.

In the first three months of this year, the council received 1,065 applications.

Oxford has also taken out eight prosecutions against landlords and one against a letting agent since starting the new licensing scheme, and another letting agent has accepted a formal caution.

A further 88 cases are under investigation, and the council has taken over the management of one HMO. Only a small number of licences have been issued without conditions requiring landlords to improve the property. The council is investigating properties that it suspects are unlicensed HMOs.

The Oxford precedent is likely to be overtaken by the London borough of Newham, which proposes the licensing not just of all HMOs on its patch, but of every single private rental property.