Consultation launched on new landlord licensing scheme

Liverpool City Council is launching a public consultation today on a five year extension to its pioneering landlord licensing scheme set to be introduced on 1st April 2020.

To run for the next 12 weeks, the consultation aims to garner views on a range of topics including the cost of the licence, the conditions and the wider benefits of the ground-breaking scheme to tenants and the community.

People can have their say on the scheme’s extension at liverpool.gov.uk/landlordlicensingconsultation or by emailing
liverpool.licensing@ors.org.uk The deadline for submissions is midnight, Sunday, 26 May.

The council first launched the scheme in April 2015 to help drive up standards in the private rental sector, and requires property owners across Liverpool to hold a licence for each of their rental homes.

Liverpool City Council’s Landlord Licensing Team have issued more than 48,500 licences since 2015 and almost 20,000 compliance actions have been carried out, with 70% of inspected properties found to be in breach of their licence conditions. Inspections have also uncovered serious hazards such as fire, excess cold and falls.

It is a criminal offence to rent out a property without the required licence and more than 2,000 legal notices have been issued, with 89 fixed penalty notices and 154 successfully prosecuted landlords.

In addition, 11 cases have been brought for health and safety hazards and action taken against 29 unlicensed HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupation).

Nationally, figures show that Liverpool alone is responsible for 389% of the 460% national rise in prosecutions between 2012 and 2018.

The Landlord Licensing team works alongside street scene officers, Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and other partners to identify unlicensed properties and address issues on non–compliance.

There is a robust enforcement plan in place and the focus is currently on large portfolio holders who either fail to manage or fail to comply with their legal requirements.

At the end of the consultation period Liverpool City Council’s cabinet will receive a report on whether to recommend the implementation of a Selective Licensing scheme from April 2020. Final approval will then be sought from the Secretary of State.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said:Landlord Licensing has given us a foot in the door at private rented properties across the city to make sure that they are up to standard and, if not, take action to make sure they are.

“Poorly managed properties have a negative impact on both the occupiers as well as neighbouring properties and communities and a well-managed private rented sector is key to helping provide the residents of Liverpool with the greatest life chances possible.

“It is the council’s strong belief that everyone in rented accommodation deserves and has the right to live in a safe and well managed home, no matter what part of the city they live in.

“Our licensing team have found shocking examples of landlords happy to take rent off their tenants despite providing them with substandard accommodation, often with issues around heating, damp and poor electrics whilst regular checks are not being carried out and issues of Anti-Social Behaviour are not addressed properly.

“We’ve made massive progress in less than four years and led the way nationally in tackling poor housing conditions and bad property management, but we believe we need to continue with the scheme beyond 2020 to continue making a difference.

“We believe we have a really strong case and want to hear from tenants to help prove to Government why they need to allow us to continue with a city-wide programme.”

Councillor Lynnie Hinnigan, Cabinet Member for Housing, added: “It is important to note that there are good landlords out there and we welcome the support we have had from landlord bodies – a well-managed private rented sector helps us focus resources on non-compliant and criminal landlords. It’s important we hear from all parties in this consultation to ensure the scheme reflects the needs of the city and continues to promote good practice.”

Nick McCormack, Station Manager for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Working in partnership with the council landlord licencing team, landlords and residents helps us identify any potential risks to our communities before they develop into more serious incidents that may present a risk to life. We strongly support an extension to the landlord licencing scheme which will improve residents’ quality of life, increase building safety and reduce the potential for serious incidents before they occur.”

Coinciding with the public consultation, the council’s Landlord licensing team will be holding a series of meetings for landlords in St George’s Hall.

To register a place, landlords should email liverpool.licensing@ors.org.uk or call 0800 324 7005 and specify a preferred meeting date:
• Meeting 1 – Thursday 4th April at 5.30pm
• Meeting 2 – Wednesday 15th May at 5.30pm
• Meeting 3 – Thursday 16th May at 11.30am

As well as the online platforms, public comments can also be submitted by post to:
Opinion Research Services
FREEPOST 331018
PO Box 530
Swansea
SA1 1ZL