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Selective Licensing for Private Rented Homes in Oxford - Will This be Extended to Short-Term Holiday Lets?

What is selective licensing?

From 1st September 2022, it became mandatory for private rented properties in Oxford to be licensed under the Oxford City Council selective licensing scheme. It is not an entirely new concept for the city, but replaces several previous licensing schemes that were in place between 2011 to 2021. The scheme is not limited to houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) and encompasses most types of private rented properties across the whole city of Oxford, although there are a few exceptions which can be found on the council website here. Selective licensing schemes are used by councils to manage and drive up standards of private rented accommodation in defined geographical locations.

Why is a selective licensing scheme needed for private rented homes?

The use of selective licensing schemes implemented and managed by local authorities has become more widespread in recent years. Councils are able to introduce selective licensing schemes where there is evidence of a substantial problem with poor quality and unsafe private rented accommodation. The aim of the schemes is to drive up housing standards in the private rental market and ensure landlords comply with their legal obligations to tenants. By ensuring that base safety and quality standards are met or exceeded, selective licensing schemes can help to drive rogue landlords out of the market, leaving a fair playing field for landlords that invest in their properties to provide good quality, safe accommodation for their tenants.

Does the current selective licensing scheme in Oxford apply to short-term holiday lets?

The selective licensing scheme which took affect in Oxford from 1st September 2022 does not apply to properties classed as short-term holiday lets which are exempt under the Housing Act 2004. However, Oxford City Council has replied to a government consultation suggesting that a licensing scheme is also used to regulate this market within the city. In our opinion, it is likely that greater regulation will soon be introduced for short-term holiday lettings on a local and possibly national basis.

Oxford City Council views the rise in whole properties within the city being advertised as short-term lets through sites such as Air BnB as ‘a major problem.’* The conversion of residential properties to short-term lets is seen by some as contributing to a lack of permanent housing in the city where affordability for local people is already a problem. Meanwhile, the current lack of regulation around holiday properties makes it difficult to control safety standards, traffic or noise in residential areas, and in some cases, criminal or anti-social behaviour that may arise. As things stand, councils are often unaware when a residential property is being used as a short term let unless it receives complaints. Therefore, it appears to be seeking more control around how many properties can be used for short-term holiday letting in a given area and what permissions are granted.

The cabinet has recently decided that whole house short-term lets registered as a commercial businesses must start to pay for waste disposals to remove a perceived unfair advantage over hotels and guest houses that are already bound by greater regulation.

How can Cico Solutions help your holiday lettings business with changing legislation?

Cico Solutions has been managing holiday accommodation for clients in the Oxford area through platforms such as Air BnB for many years. Our business relies on staying abreast of the latest legislation and ensuring that our clients remain compliant. Allowing us to manage your short-term holiday accommodation to a high standard will mean that you are well placed to tackle any changes to legislation in the short-term holiday lettings market and respond to future licensing requirements without any troublesome non-compliances, problems or fines. To find out how we can help your business call 07881 276 367 or email