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The countdown has begun to the start of the UK’s first HMO blanket licensing scheme that starts in Oxford.
From January 30, every landlord letting a house in multiple occupation (HMO) in the Oxford City Council area must apply to licence the property.
The order covers small HMOs for three to five unrelated tenants as well as larger HMOs that already need compulsory licensing.
Oxford is the first city in the UK to bring in a compulsory licensing scheme for all shared houses.
Councillors reckon the city has 5,000 HMOs – around 1,000 are large HMOs and the rest smaller, shared family homes.
In the past 12 months, 933 large HMOs have registered for a licence.
Councillor Joe McManners, the city council’s board member for housing, said: “The team have worked hard to licence HMOs in the city and we are well on the way to issuing a thousand HMO licences.
“HMOs have long been recognised as being a particular problem in the city, with many examples of poor quality homes and in some cases being poorly managed. These damage the reputation of good landlords and we are determined to put this right, and stop those doing the right thing being undercut by cowboys.
“The private rented sector is hugely important to the residents of Oxford, not just in terms of providing much needed accommodation, but also with the impact that it can have on local communities and licensing every HMO will help drive up standards for everyone.”
Failing to licence an HMO can lead to fines of up to £20,000.
“Enforcement action is being taken against those landlords and agents who are not complying with the scheme and some of them have been taken to court and fined. Now every HMO in the city needs a licence, there is nowhere left to hide,” said McManners.
Every HMO is inspected before a licence is issued. If problems arise from poor management or unsafe living conditions, the council can take legal action to withdraw licences and bar landlords from running HMOs.
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