A landlord accreditation scheme in Oxford is both discriminatory and unlawful, according to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).
The organisation has written to Oxford City Council to oppose the scheme on the grounds that it includes conditions that breach European directives. In Oxford, all landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are required to obtain a licence in order to lawfully let their properties.
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, as longer HMO licences offer a financial and practical benefit for landlords, yet only landlords who are members of the Council’s accreditation scheme can take advantage of these longer licences at the moment.
The scheme also includes a condition demanding landlords to attend training sessions to become accredited. The RLA warns that this discriminates against those who live outside of Oxford or the UK but let properties 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 organisation is now calling for the Council to review the plan as a matter of urgency.David Smith, the Policy Director of the RLA, says: “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 it not take action.Last year, the RLA threatened Great Yarmouth Borough Council with a judicial review over serious concerns about its selective licensing scheme.