Consultation under way on ‘life-saving’ landlord licensing proposal

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CONSULTATION gets under way today on a comprehensive landlord licensing scheme which would cover around 80 per cent of privately rented properties in Liverpool.

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.

Last month, the council’s Cabinet approved 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 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.

The three-month consultation will run until October with a submission made to the Government for ministerial consideration in December 2020.

The consultation can be found on the council’s website

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 more than 300 landlord offences
  • Liverpool was responsible for 389 per cent of the 460 per cent national rise in prosecutions between 2012 and 2018

Deputy Mayor and cabinet member for housing, Councillor Lynnie Hinnigan, said: “All the evidence over the last five years shows landlord licensing made a massive difference to the lives of our most vulnerable residents.

“Rogue landlord were compelled to take action to improve electrical and fire safety standards, as well as dealing with issues such as damp and anti-social behaviour.

“What we are looking at is introducing one of the largest schemes in the country covering the vast majority of properties that were under the original programme.

“Using our powers under the licensing scheme to proactively address poor management of properties meant that we tackled head on the dangerous living conditions that contribute to poor health such as excess cold.

“This life-saving scheme ensures landlords meet their obligations and put in smoke detectors and fire doors as required by law.

“Every single penny we get would be ring-fenced for the landlord licensing service, with our team out on the streets every day inspecting properties, chasing disrepair and taking the strongest action against landlords who refuse to manage and keep their properties safe.

“We want as many people as possible to give us feedback on the proposal and have their say to help inform the process.”