Fresh landlord licensing scheme application set to be submitted
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An application is set to be submitted to the Government for a comprehensive landlord licensing scheme covering around 80 per cent of privately rented properties in Liverpool.
In August, the council began consultation on a new preferred scheme, based on poor property conditions, targeting the 16 wards in the city where at least one in five homes is owned by a private landlord.
Around 45,000 of the 55,000 properties in the original city-wide scheme – which ran from 2015-2020 – would still be covered, giving the council additional powers to drive up standards and keep vulnerable tenants safe, such as tackling fire and electrical safety hazards, excess cold and damp.
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.
A consultation, which ran from August until October, received feedback in the form of more than 2,000 questionnaires, 601 telephone surveys, numerous virtual and face-to-face meetings, focus groups and in depth interviews involving tenants, residents, landlords and partner organisations.
Tenants, residents and partners were generally supportive of the proposal, with landlords and agents saying that they were against.
The council is committed to looking at fees and incentives as well as improving working relationship with landlords and agents.
There will be regular reports on the progress of the new scheme to raise local awareness and as a way of helping tenants and residents know about their rights and how to complain about poor properties.
Two other options which were consulted on – based on low housing demand and deprivation – were not as well supported and have been rejected.
If the Cabinet report recommending submission is approved on Friday 18 December, an application will be submitted to Government in January, although it is unlikely to come into force until June 2021 at the earliest, giving time for the application process to be finalised.
The new application follows the rejection last January by the Government of a previous proposal for a citywide scheme, which was based on low housing demand.
An evaluation of the 2015-2020 city-wide licensing scheme found:
Over 34,000 inspections of licensed properties had been 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 disrepair 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 issuing of 87 civil penalties
The scheme is pivotal to the success of the City Plan, which commits partners to making sure all residents live in safe, inclusive and welcoming neighbourhoods.
Deputy Mayor, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “This life-saving scheme would be one of the largest in the country covering the vast majority of properties that were under the original programme, ensuring landlords meet their obligations, such as putting in smoke detectors and fire doors as required by law.
“The council makes no profit from the scheme. Every single pound we get from landlords would be ring-fenced, paying for our team to be out on the streets every day inspecting homes, chasing disrepair and taking the strongest action against those landlords who refuse to manage and keep their properties safe.”
Cabinet member for housing, Councillor Barry Kushner, said: “Having a warm and safe home is a basic human right – but sadly we know that too many of our residents live in poor housing conditions and are paying rent to a landlord who doesn’t carry out essential maintenance.
“It is essential that we have some regulation of private rented houses, so that we can take action when our residents are living in poor housing conditions and are paying rent to a landlord who doesn’t carry out essential maintenance.
“The previous scheme showed how council intervention forces bad landlords into taking action to improve their properties, giving us a foot in the door to work with tenants to identify the issues and get landlords to take action.
“Many of the cases we have dealt with previously were related to electrical and fire safety standards, as well as damp and anti-social behaviour, all of which contribute to poor health and mental wellbeing.”