As part of my Tenant Involvement and Engagement with the Oxford City Council (OCC) I took part in the reviewing of the Private Rental Sector (PRS). Oxford has a high percentage of Houses of Multiple Occupancy’s (HMO) and private individual dwelling properties and within this are some very scrupulous landlords who’s properties full way below the standards expected of them. During our PRS review we looked at the issue’s tenants face with the property or landlord they reside with and examined ways that this issue can be dealt with. The review and it’s report has highlighted the need for major changes to how private landlords run their properties and the safe-guards required to keep tenants safe.
The report itself made such a difference in terms of starting conversations and making people think about the importance of changing Private Landlord assessment, accreditation, and Licencing schemes. As part of the work carried out on the PRS review the OCC has commissioned a survey to examine bringing in a selective licensing scheme for all private landlords. Selective Licensing is a contentious issue among private landlords and letting agents but with the increasing level of complaints from tenants and tenant groups a solution is needed to address the growing concerns about public safety. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted abuse, discrimination and neglect faced by private tenants have by landlords who have failed in their legal duty in maintaining the properties to a safe and satisfactory standard.
An additional positive coming from the PRS review is that the council is working with local housing supports groups to help tenants who are experiencing difficulties with their landlord. As a member of the OCC Tenant Involvement and Engagement Group, member of the Housing and Homelessness Scrutiny Penal, Oxford Influence Group and the Oxford Tenant Union, I have been able to further my work to bring about new ways to how the Private Sector is being monitored and changed. The OCC and housing support groups have taken on board the recommendations of the PRS Review and we are taking further steps to safe-guard vulnerable tenants who need support.