Oxford Challenged Over HMO Licensing

PainSmith Solicitors along with Jonathan Manning and Justin Bates of Arden Chambers have been instructed by a group of Oxford landlords, lettings agents, and other interested parties to pursue an action for judicial review of Oxford City Council’s decision to make an additional licensing designation for the whole of Oxford.

We have previously posted on this issue and as a result of discussions that sprang from that post we have been instructed to send a pre-action protocol letter to Oxford. A (slightly edited for client confidentiality) copy of that letter can be seen here.

Both we and our clients take this action with some regret. As a firm PainSmith Solicitors (and our clients) wholly support the licensing of HMOs provided it is carried out with proper consultation and in accordance with the law in a reasonable and proportionate manner. Unfortunately, the scheme proposed by Oxford does not do this.

The scheme, if carried forward as currently planned, would leave many landlords with their properties designated as HMOs but because Oxford intends to “phase” licence applications over the next 3-4 years these landlords would not be able to apply for a licence. This would, as a consequence, place these landlords in breach of the law and further make them unable to serve a valid notice under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 on their tenants. This situation cannot be what the Council intends and is simply irrational.

We hope that Oxford uses this opportunity to rethink its policy on additional HMO licensing.

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