Liverpool City Council is set to begin consultation on continuing its pioneering Landlord Licensing scheme for another five years.
More than 48,500 licences have been granted to the owners of privately rented properties since April 2015, and it has delivered huge benefits for tenants and people living in the neighbourhood in driving up standards of properties.
Almost 20,000 compliance checks have been carried out, with 70 percent of properties inspected having issues that needed tackling such as health and safety hazards including electrical and heating problems.
The local authority has issued over 2,000 legal notices, 89 fixed penalty notices and successfully prosecuted 154 landlords.
In addition, 11 cases have been brought for health and safety 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.
Now, a report to Cabinet on Friday 8 February is recommending the council start consultation on whether to continue the scheme from 2020-2025.
If approved, a further report will come back later this year at which point the council will have to decide the size and scope of a further scheme. If it covers more than 20 percent of the city it will have to be approved by the Secretary of State subject to the council having sufficient evidence that it is required.
Mayor 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.
“Our 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.
“We’ve made huge strides in less than four years and led the way nationally in tackling poor housing conditions, 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 can prove to Government why they need to allow us to continue with a city-wide programme.
“It is important to note 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.”
The move has been welcomed by two of the professional bodies representing landlords.
David Cox, Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark, which is one of the city council’s co-regulation partners on Landlord Licensing, said: “Access to quality rented accommodation is a fundamental issue for many families across Liverpool.
“ARLA Propertymark is pleased to be working with Liverpool Council as part of their Co-Regulation scheme which keeps the costs of licensing down for those landlords whose properties are managed by professional, regulated letting agents”.
Isobel Thomson, CEO of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), said: “NALS has supported Liverpool City Council’s Licensing Scheme from the beginning through the Co-regulatory partnership which has worked well.
“Everyone deserves a safe and secure home, and the scheme has allowed the council to focus its efforts on enforcement and tackling poor standards in the private rented sector.”