BLOG: Why Liverpool’s landlord licensing scheme must continue

Terraced houses

Liverpool City Council is currently consulting on a new landlord licensing scheme. Private Sector Housing Manager Louise Connelly explains why it is so important for the city.

Imagine living with a young family in a damp property which leaking windows, a clapped-out boiler, dangerous electrics and a heartless landlord who is happy to take your rent but does not return your calls.

That is the type of situation my team in landlord licensing came across every single day while enforcing the council’s landlord licensing programme.

Between 2015 and 2020 we carried out over 34,000 compliance activities and found two-thirds of homes were not compliant on the first visit.

More than 3,500 hazards of the most serious kind were uncovered such as fire risks, excess cold, damp and mould, tripping and electrical hazards – all affecting the health and wellbeing of tenants.

One case saw an absentee landlord fined £15,000 for renting out an unlicensed fire trap property in Toxteth to vulnerable people, with improvements subsequently made.

Landlord licensing meant we were able to work with landlord and agents to get their living conditions improved.

Where landlords wouldn’t co-operate, we took action, issuing more than 2,500 legal notices, 169 formal cautions, 197 written warnings and prosecuting 300 offences.

One case saw an absentee landlord fined £15,000 for renting out an unlicensed fire trap property in Toxteth to vulnerable people, with improvements subsequently made.

We got an unlicensed property in Old Swan auctioned and tenants rehoused due to issues with damp and gas safety.

Joint working with Merseyside Police across the city solved problems with anti-social behaviour but particularly in Fazarkeley, Anfield and Kensington.

And we secured a jail sentence for a landlord in Wavertree who callously tried to forcibly evict an elderly man with a lifetime tenancy.

The Landlord Licensing team with partners from Merseyside Police and Mersey Fire and Rescue Service during a day of action

Sadly the government turned down our bid for a new city-wide licensing scheme at the start of this year, so we’re having to consult on a new one.

If approved by the Government, our much-needed scheme will be smaller in size, but we’re confident it will be almost as effective, covering 80 per cent of privately rented properties in the city and continuing our valuable work.

And this is where you come in.

If you live in Liverpool, the chances are that there are several privately rented properties on your road. In some areas it is up to half of homes. You may even live in one yourself.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not anti-landlord – it supports compliant landlords, creating a level playing field for the private rented market in the city.

Indeed, we have assisted landlords to remove troublesome tenants who cause issues with anti-social behavioiur, drug-dealing and crime.

All the evidence is that landlord licensing has made a massive difference to the lives of our most vulnerable residents something I am very passionate about.

But we need your help to prove it to Government.

So please take some time to respond to our consultation at https://liverpool.gov.uk/selectivelicensingconsultation