Liverpool’s proposals to introduce a licensing scheme for landlords continue to move forward, with the appointment of an independent consultant.
Opinion Research Services (ORS) have been commissioned by the city council to carry out a 12-week consultation with landlords, tenants, residents and other stakeholders, beginning on 24 March.
The licensing proposals are an important part of the city’s ’10 Point Pledge’ for landlords, and the start, next week, of formal consultation on the issue will mean all 10 pledges have now either been fulfilled or are underway.
The city council launched its 10 Point Pledge in 2012, 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.
Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Ann O’Byrne, said: “This is a really important issue for our city. We want to ensure that Liverpool has a high standard of private rented properties which tenants can be confident in, and we believe a licensing scheme would play a major role in helping us achieve this.
“This formal consultation period gives all organisations and individuals affected by these proposals the chance to get involved in the discussions and have their say. We will consider all views carefully before we make a final decision.
“It’s great news that we are now in a position where all 10 of our landlords pledges have either been completed or are in motion. It reflects the huge amount of work we are doing to connect with landlords and work with them to drive up standards within our private rented sector.”
Liverpool’s proposals for a citywide licensing scheme would mean that all landlords who privately rent properties in the city would require a licence for each of their rented properties. The Council would need to determine that the proposed licence holder is a ‘fit and proper’ person to manage their properties.
The plans aim to drive up standards of tenancy management, isolate poor landlords and make them easier to identify, secure a consistent level of responsible property management, and promote an understanding among residents about what they can reasonably expect from their landlord.
It also aims to help empower tenants – who currently have no way of knowing the quality of their prospective landlord – and help them make informed choices, promote greater confidence in the rental market and help improve demand.
Proposals for the licensing scheme were first considered at the end of 2012, and since then, the city council has been engaging with stakeholders and collating an extensive range of evidence from a number of internal and external sources to produce a comprehensive business case, paving the way to the start of the formal consultation.
If a decision is made to introduce a licensing scheme, it is expected it will come into force in 2015.
Further details of the consultation, and how people can get involved and have their say, will be released in the near future.
The other points in the city’s 10 Point Pledge for landlords are:
• The adoption of a Liverpool Standard for private rented housing in the city, including minimum standards based on the Decent Homes Standard and best practice in the management of tenancies.
• A free, voluntary register for landlords, to encourage better communications with the council.
• The re-launch and promotion of the CLASS accreditation scheme which recognises good landlords, and which has just achieved a major milestone, with the 400th organisation, and 2,000th property, in the city now signed up for the scheme.
• A ‘Know Your Landlord’ service, through which prospective tenants can enquire whether landlords are registered, accredited, or a member of a recognised landlords organisation such as the National Landlords Association.
• A confidential freephone line – 0800 707 6245 – where people can report unregistered or poor quality landlords, triggering an investigation from the city’s enforcement team
• A Rogue Landlords Hit Squad, set up to seek out and investigate poor landlords and take appropriate action.
• A Landlords Advisory Group, comprised of landlords and also lettings and managing agents.
• Incentives for landlords who manage their properties well, including access to renewal funding, and the opportunity to advertise their properties on the city’s on-line Property Pool Plus service.
• Dedicated web pages, publicising the Liverpool Standard, the accreditation scheme and general news items of interest to landlords, tenants and people seeking accommodation.