Have your say on landlords licensing

Row of terraced houses

Liverpool landlords, tenants, residents, businesses and other organisations are being invited to air their views on proposals to introduce a licensing scheme for the city’s private rented properties.

Twelve weeks of consultation activities begin today, giving everyone the chance to have their say on the proposals, which aim to drive up the quality of private rented properties in Liverpool and improve social and economic conditions in the city’s neighbourhoods.

An on-line questionnaire has been launched at www.liverpool.gov.uk/selectivelicensing where people can read about the proposals in full and respond to questions around a range of issues, including whether they are in favour of the plans, the license conditions and fee structure.

Independent research company Opinion Research Services (ORS) has been commissioned by the city council to carry out the consultation, which runs until 16th June.

Running alongside the questionnaire, they will be co-ordinating a number of landlord and public forums, drop-in sessions and other engagement work, across the city, during the 12-week period. More details on those events, and how to get involved, to be announced in the near future.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Ann O’Byrne, said: “We think that a landlords licensing scheme will bring huge benefits to our city, but we want to make sure everyone has the chance to get involved in the discussions and let us know what they think.

“Liverpool has a growing number of privately rented properties and the sector is vital in meeting city’s housing needs, so it is important that what is on offer is of high quality.

“Although many landlords operate professionally, we are concerned about a number of landlords who rent properties which fail to meet satisfactory standards of tenancy and property management.

“This has a negative impact on the health and welfare of local communities and on a housing market that is already vulnerable in terms of vacant properties, low house prices and depressed rental values. Poorly managed properties also lead to problems such as anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping, and are a blight on the city’s neighbourhoods.

“We want to ensure that Liverpool has a good quality private rented sector, which tenants can be confident in, and we believe the licensing scheme can play a major part in helping achieve this. We are keen to receive feedback from as many people as possible on these plans, and all views will be carefully considered before we make a final decision. ”

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 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.

As well as filling in the questionnaire on-line, people can also write to’ Liverpool Selective Licensing Consultation, Opinion Research Services, The Strand, Swansea, SA1 1AF’ – to leave written feedback or request a printed copy of the questionnaire. People can also leave comments by calling 01792 824 741 or e-mailing Liverpool.licensing@ors.org.uk

The results of the consultation will then be considered by the Council before it makes a decision on whether and how to introduce selective licensing. If a decision is made to introduce a licensing scheme, it is expected it will come into force in 2015.