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Tag Archives: licensing

Unlawful HMO license fees in Oxford and how to get your money back

Oxford StudentsDavid Smith of Anthony Gold tells about one of his successful cases and how it can help you if you are an HMO landlord in Oxford

HMO licensing fees are a significant cost for many landlords. However, it now seems that some local authorities have been charging fees which are unlawful.

The power to charge a fees in respect of HMO licensing is found in s63 of the Housing Act 2004. Importantly, this power is granted in respect of licence applications only.

However, a number of local authorities charge fees for other matters associated with HMO licensing other than the direct grant of a licence. For example, Oxford City Council has sought to charge a fee for the variation of an HMO licence.

A case in the High Court recently (which actually related to the licensing of sex shops!) it has been clearly established that a council can only charge a fee for something they are explicitly authorised in a piece of legislation to charge a fee for.

On the back of this decision, as well as for other reasons, I brought a case against Oxford City Council for refusal to vary an HMO licence. As part of this case there was a dispute about whether Oxford could charge a fee for the variation.

Ultimately the Residential Property Tribunal (RPT) ruled that the fee was unlawful and that it could not be charged.

Oxford has amended its fee structure and has stated that it will not charge a fee for an HMO licence variation from 1 September 2013. However the RPT decision was made in March and, more importantly, if the variation fee is unlawful then it was always unlawful and should never have been charged. This means that it is refundable.

Anyone who has paid a fee to Oxford City Council for an HMO licence variation is entitled to recover this money. Anyone who has paid for the variation of an HMO licence with another council is also entitled to their money back. See below for suggested draft letter which you may like to use.

Dear Sirs

I write to you in regard to the fee of £<<insert fee paid>> as an HMO licence variation fee on <<insert payment date>> with respect to my property at <<insert property address>>.

I note the decision of the RPT in Crompton v Oxford City Council (CAM/38UC/HMV/2013/0006-7) in which it was held that a fee to vary an HMO licence was unlawful and beyond the power of the Council to charge.

It is accepted law that monies obtained by unlawfully agreement cannot be retained. Accordingly, I look forward to the return of the above-mentioned fee from the Council within 14 days of the date of this letter.

Yours etc


Oxford leads the way with HMO licensing

Oxford houses

HMO Licensing in Oxford Oxford City Council looks to be the first local authority to introduce blanket licensing for HMOs in its area, under new powers granted in April.    The new scheme will apply to every HMO in the city (apart from a few self contained flats) and will come into force on 25 October.Continue Reading

Kate Faulkner – Notable Property Persons in their own words

Kate Faulkner

Kate Faulkner from Designs on Property My second ‘Notable Property Person‘ is Kate Faulkner, a well known property person, particularly for her books for the consumer organisation, Which and her association with Channel 4. Here are her answers to our questions: 1. Please introduce yourself. Say a bit about yourself and your company I liveContinue Reading

Great articles in the current issue of Roof – the housing magazine from Shelter

Roof Magazine

Two years ago I did a review of Roof Magazine on my Landlord Law site, where I said how good it was. I have just finished reading the January / February 2010 issue, and have decided I need to write about it again. It really is excellent, this issue in particular. For example articles IContinue Reading

Are more Local Authorities applying for extra licensing?

Large houses

The HMO regulations and mandatory licensing was introduced a few years ago now (April 2006) so Councils have had a while to get used to it.  It looks like we are beginning to see more Local Authorities applying for extra licensing, for example the HMO licensing in Cathays Ward in Cardiff which I posted onContinue Reading

HMO licensing in Cathays ward Cardiff

© Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

One of the stories which stood out for me when I looked through my various feeds and Google news headlines this morning was this one about an application for additional licensing in Cathay ward in Cardiff, Wales. As regular readers of this blog will remember, mandatory licensing for the larger HMO properties was introduced byContinue Reading

Shoddy HMOs? Don’t blame the law, blame the enforcers


A recent article on the BBC news site, complains that landlords are avoiding the HMO licensing regulations by developing HMOs in buildings which do not come within the categories which require licensing, which in most cases requires a building to have three or more stories. Hence, the article implies, landlords are able to get awayContinue Reading

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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