Liverpool City Council has signed a ground-breaking partnership with three organisations representing letting agents and landlords to help drive up standards in the private rented sector.
The co-regulation agreement – the first of its type in the country – commits their members to providing high standards of housing, meaning that they comply with the conditions of the council’s mandatory Landlord Licensing scheme. It requires all landlords in the city to have a five year licence for each of their rented properties.
The agreement means that property owners represented by each of the organisations will get a 50 percent discount on the fee and pay £200 per property, rather than the standard rate of £400 for the first and £350 for each subsequent home.
The organisations that have signed up for co-regulation are:
• ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents)
• NALS (National Approved Letting Scheme)
• RLA (Residential Landlords Association)
Councillor Frank Hont, Cabinet member for housing, said: “When we launched the Landlord Licensing scheme we were clear that we wanted to work with the private rented sector to help them comply with the scheme, and find ways of giving discounts to those that are committed to meeting the standards.
“I am delighted that ARLA, NALS and the RLA have all come on board. It is a win-win for everyone, because their members benefit from a reduced fee and we are able to target our resources at those landlords who we know aren’t meeting the standards.
“This is all part of our drive to improve the quality of housing in the city and make sure that our residents have access to good quality accommodation.”
David Cox, managing director, Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) says: “We are really pleased to become a co-regulator for the Liverpool Selective Licensing Scheme.
“We are glad Liverpool City Council has seen the importance of distinguishing between the professional market and those who the scheme is designed to remove from Liverpool’s rental market.
ARLA welcomes this initiative and hopefully by giving landlords who use our members a 50% discount on licensing fees, it will encourage more landlords to use licensed letting agents. This in turn will further benefit the consumer, by providing them with a wider choice of reputable letting agents who will be bound by the ARLA code of conduct.”
Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive, NALS said: “We are delighted to be part of a co-regulatory partnership with Liverpool City Council for their Selective Licensing Scheme. We welcome the recognition they have given to NALS agents and the strict criteria they meet in relation to customer service and consumer protection.
“By offering a discounted licensing fee for those agents who come under a co-regulatory partnership, it is a clear indicator to landlords of which agents they should be using.
“We would also like to thank Liverpool City Council for their considered and collaborative approach in developing the co-regulation arrangement and we look forward to working with them as the scheme evolves”.
Andrew Goodacre, Chief Executive of the RLA, said: “The idea of co-regulation has been a key policy feature for the RLA over the past 12 months and we are delighted that Liverpool Council have given us the opportunity to implement a scheme of this nature.
“The RLA is the only landlord association approved to offer a co-regulation alternative to those landlords in Liverpool who wish to continue to manage their portfolio themselves.
“There are a growing number of landlords who are choosing to manage their properties directly and our scheme is an ideal vehicle for self-regulation whilst still providing significant savings on the licence fees.”
Almost 8,500 landlords responsible for around 39,500 properties have so far started the application process for the scheme, which came into effect in April 2015. The City Council has also started to issue the first batch of licences which will be followed by compliance checks to ensure licence conditions are being met and standards maintained.
In addition, both current and prospective tenants can access a database at www.liverpool.gov.uk/landlordlicensing to see if their landlord has started the application process, and can let the council know if it is not on the database.
Landlords are being urged to log on to complete the first part of the application process if they have not yet done so.
Landlord licensing has the backing of campaign groups including Shelter and Generation Rent.
Pictured are David Cox from ARLA, Cabinet member for housing Cllr Frank Hont, Isobel Thomson from NALS and Andrew Goodacre from RLA at the signing of the co-regulation agreement