Evaluation highlights landlord licensing successes

Terraced houses

An evaluation of Liverpool City Council’s five-year landlord licensing scheme shows it dealt with almost 24,000 complaints of which 96 per cent were resolved.

The report is being considered by the council’s Housing Select Committee on Wednesday 19 August, and comes as a consultation is under way on a successor scheme which would cover 80 per cent of the private rented sector in the city.

Key finding from the analysis of the team’s work from April 2015 – March 2020 includes:

· Over 34,000 inspections of licensed properties completed which identified 65 per cent of properties were not fully compliant on the first visit

· Identification of 3,375 cases of the most serious category 1 and 2 hazards including disrepairs and excess cold affecting the health and wellbeing of residents

· Issuing of more than 2,500 legal notices, 169 formal cautions and 197 written warnings

· More than 300 successful landlord offence prosecutions and 87 civil penalties

· Resolving 98 per cent of 2,859 anti-social behaviour complaints received

Success stories highlighted in the report include:

· The city’s first prosecution for a retaliatory eviction, in Wavertree, which led to a three month custodial sentence for the owner

· An absentee landlord being fined £15,000 for renting out an unlicensed fire trap property to vulnerable people, with improvements subsequently made to the property in Toxteth

· An unlicensed property in Old Swan being auctioned and tenants rehoused due to issues with damp and gas safety

· Joint working with Merseyside Police that solved problems with anti-social behaviour and rubbish outside a property in Fazakerley

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 – and this report is irrefutable proof.

“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.

“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.

“It is vital that we have a new landlord licensing scheme and we want as many people as possible to give us feedback on our current consultation proposal and have their say.”

Consultation is under way 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 and be introduced next year.

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 at https://liverpool.gov.uk/selectivelicensingconsultation