A register for landlords has been launched as part of Liverpool’s drive to improve standards of private sector housing.
The voluntary register – launched this week at Merseyside Landlord Expo – is a key part of a 10 point pledge on landlord issues.
The pledge aims to build on the positive relationship the council has with many landlords while taking a robust stance against the small minority of poor landlords and provide a level playing field for all.
The free register will enable the council to communicate more effectively with landlords on matters of interest to them. It also gives the council the ability to contact individual landlords quickly on issues concerning their property.
Councillor Ann O’Byrne, Cabinet Member for Housing, said; “We want to establish contact with all landlords who operate in Liverpool and raise the profile of the good ones. But we also want to tackle the small minority of poor landlords who ignore housing regulations and do not want to co-operate with us.
“This register is an important step in that process and the pledges we are making will make it very clear what our expectations are of landlords and also that we will take a tough stance against those who fail in this respect.”
As part of the advice being offered to landlords, officers from the Council’s Environmental Health and Healthy Homes teams held seminars at the Expo to advise landlords of the importance of housing and health and took an in-depth look at issues around Houses in Multiple Occupation.
Landlords have also been encouraged to make suggestions about what else the Council can do to help them operate, and improve the sector. Further consultation with landlords, and learning more about the issues affecting them will help shape the Council’s response.
The other points in the pledge are
• The adoption of a Liverpool Standard for private rented housing in the city which will include minimum standards based on the Decent Homes Standard and also best practice in the management of tenancies.
• A re-launch of the Landlord Accreditation scheme, publicising the benefits of the scheme and targeted at particular sectors of the private rented sector such as new landlords. Greater public access to, and promotion of the list of accredited landlords highlighting their ‘beacon’ status will be provided.
• Incentives for good landlords will be available for those achieving the required standard. These could include access to funding available in renewal areas and for bringing empty homes back into use; access to Propertypool Plus for advertising vacant properties and availability of the tenancy bond scheme.
• A ‘Scores on the Doors’ service will be developed in which prospective tenants can enquire whether landlords are registered, accredited, licensed (if an HMO) or a member of a recognised landlords organisation such as the National Landlords Association. This could be developed further to include a ‘rate your landlord’ facility where current and former tenants can post comments about the quality of accommodation and service provided by their landlord.
• A confidential freephone line where people can report unregistered or poor quality landlords. This would trigger an investigation from the enforcement team.
• Dedicated web pages for Liverpool landlords will be established to publicise the Liverpool Standard, the accreditation scheme and general news items of interest to landlords, tenants and people seeking accommodation.
• A Landlords Advisory Group comprised of landlords and also lettings and managing agents will be formed.
• A Rogue Landlords Hit Squad will seek out and investigate poor landlords and take appropriate action.
• A feasibility study and consultation will be undertaken on a Citywide Selective Licensing Scheme. The Housing Act 2004 gives powers to councils to designate areas as subject to selective licensing provided certain conditions are met. Such a designation can be made if the area to which it relates is experiencing low housing demand and/or significant levels of persistent anti-social behaviour problems not being addressed by private landlords operating in the area.
To join the register and commit to continue to improve the private rented sector in Liverpool and receive information about landlord forums and other issues email Landlord.Register@liverpool.gov.uk with your details or ring 0800 0121754