of Liverpool’s largest letting agencies has been hit with a hefty fine after
failing to provide adequate fire safety measures at a city student home.
and Aitchison Ltd, which trades as Whitegates Letting and Estate Agents,
admitted breaching the conditions of their Landlord Licence in a prosecution
brought by Liverpool City Council.
Magistrates’ Court heard that officers with the city council’s Landlord
Licensing Team inspected the student property on Taylforth Close, Walton, in
January of this year.
inspection revealed that the home had a broken smoke alarm. A second device
installed in the property was found to be a heat detector, which had been
fitted in error by a Whitegates employee.
court heard that the defects and errors meant that the property was without
sufficient fire safety measures for a substantial period. The court was told
that the tenant had raised concerns about the defective smoke alarm a several
times but no action was taken by Whitegates until after the city council
the sentencing hearing, District Judge Wendy Lloyd described fire safety as a
‘serious issue’ and added that the company’s actions “did not fill the public
Lloyd went on to describe the vulnerable nature of the student tenant as an
aggravating feature and told representatives of Whitegates that the company had
“let itself down”.
which has branches in Walton Vale, West Derby and Woolton, has since rectified
the defects. The court heard how it now employs an external company to inspect
and maintain its properties in a bid to ensure that the same mistakes never
Whitegates was fined £1,400, with £707.28 in costs and a victim surcharge of £140.
Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “We are working hard to create a well-managed
private rented sector in Liverpool, and this case shows what we are up against.
“When we are having to take enforcement action
against some of the biggest players in the sector there is clearly more work to
do. People have the right to be protected in their own homes, which is one of
the reasons we introduced the Landlord Licensing Scheme. We shall continue to
robustly enforce the scheme and this case shows that we will take tough action
against anyone who does not adhere to the rules.”
Landlord Licensing scheme was introduced in 2015 to drive up standards in the
city’s private rented sector. The scheme means that anyone who lets a property
must apply for a licence with the city council.
date, the city council has granted more than 52,000 licences and there are
currently nearly 10,000 licence holders in the city.
The Landlord Licensing team has conduction more than 30,000 inspections and identified more than 10,000 breaches in the conditions of the licences.
Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan, added: “The Landlord Licensing Scheme has been extremely successful, which is a testament to the hard work of all the officers involved. The team’s proactive approach has had a national impact and the scheme is leading the way in raising standards in the private rented sector. Once again this case shows how committed we are to ensuring the safety of tenants in Liverpool.”
Tenants and members of the public can check if a property has the required Landlord Licence by visiting: www.liverpool.gov.uk and searching for ‘register of licensed properties’.