Consultation on fresh landlord licensing scheme

Liverpool is set to start consulting on a comprehensive landlord licensing scheme which would cover around 80 per cent of privately rented properties in the city.

In January, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick turned down an application to keep the citywide scheme going from April 2020, claiming the council did not provide robust evidence to show low housing demand across the city

This was despite it being backed by Merseyside Police, Mersey Fire and Rescue Service and the majority of residents who responded to the consultation.

Now the council’s Cabinet is being asked to approve a plan to start consultation on a new preferred scheme, based on poor property conditions, which would target the 16 wards in the city where at least one in five homes is owned by a private landlord.

It would mean that around 45,000 of the 55,000 properties in the original scheme would still be covered by the initiative, giving the council additional powers to drive up standards and keep vulnerable tenants safe.

The wards included would be: Central, Riverside, Greenbank, Kensington, Picton, Tuebrook & Stoneycroft, County, Anfield, St Michael’s, Princes Park, Kirkdale, Old Swan, Warbreck, Wavertree, Fazakerley and Everton.

The council is also proposing consulting on two alternatives, which would include slightly fewer wards. One, based on low housing demand, would cover all of those in the preferred option, apart from Greenbank, St Michael’s and Wavertree. The other, based on deprivation, would include all of those in the preferred option, apart from Central and Wavertree.

Whichever scheme is taken forward, the council would still investigate issues with properties outside of the designated landlord licensing area if it receives complaints and referrals.

If approved by Cabinet on Friday 17 July, a 12 week consultation would run from August – October, with a submission made to the Government for ministerial consideration in December 2020.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “We don’t agree with the Government’s decision on our original city-wide submission and are still considering ways to challenge it, but I have also been very clear that it is unthinkable for us not to have a landlord licensing scheme in Liverpool.

“All the evidence over the last five years shows that it has made a tremendous difference to the lives of our most vulnerable residents. It has forced rogue landlords to take action to improve electrical and fire safety standards, as well as dealing with issues such as damp and anti-social behaviour.

“This scheme we are proposing would still be one of the largest in the country and cover the vast majority of properties that came under the original programme, and we are confident that it would meet all of the tests to be approved by the Government.”

Councillor Paul Brant, Cabinet member, said: “We’ve made massive progress and led the way nationally in tackling poor housing conditions and bad property management, and we desperately need a large scheme to continue making a difference and drive up standards in the sector.

“Every single penny we get is ringfenced for the landlord licensing service, with our team out on the streets every day inspecting properties, chasing disrepairs and taking landlords to court when they don’t sort out the problems.”

LANDLORD LICENSING FACTFILE

· Between 2015 and 2020, 70 per cent of inspected properties in Liverpool were found to be in breach of their licence condition, uncovering serious hazards such as fire, electrical safety and excess cold

· The council carried out over 37,000 compliance actions, issued more than 2,500 legal and fixed penalty notices and prosecuted almost 250 landlords

· Liverpool was responsible for 389 per cent of the 460 per cent national rise in prosecutions between 2012 and 2018