Yet another local authority has set its sights on compulsory landlord licensing for every privately owned rental property within its boundaries.
Liverpool City Council is the second local authority in the UK to launch a consultation for the introduction of a citywide landlord licensing scheme affecting over 50,000 properties.
The controversial move towards mandatory licensing of all private landlords follows that of Newham, in London, which became the first council in England to introduce mandatory licensing of all private rental properties on January 1st.
Newham’s mandatory landlord licensing scheme covers an estimated 35,000 Private Rented Sector (PRS) properties within its boundaries.
Liverpool City Council is planning to introduce its mandatory landlord licensing scheme later this year, with the public consultation due to run until April.
The proposal would mean that all private landlords who rent out their properties would need to apply for a licence, agreeing to comply with a minimum set of standards. A breach of the conditions by the landlord or the tenant could lead to a large fine or revocation of the landlord’s licence.
Liverpool city council says the plans aim to “support the city’s pledge to work with the majority of responsible landlords, support their businesses and create a level playing field for all, while cracking down on landlords who do not manage their properties properly. The landlord licensing scheme would also help empower tenants – who currently have no way of knowing the quality of their prospective landlord, and help them make informed choices. It would protect residents who have suffered from neighbouring properties being bought by landlords who have then let them indiscriminately to unsuitable tenants.”
Liverpool’s cabinet member for housing, Cllr Ann O’Byrne, said: “It’s vital that we do all we can to work with landlords across Liverpool to drive up the quality of our private rented properties. Many areas which suffer blight in the city are characterised by large numbers of poorly managed private rented properties, leading to problems such as anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping. The proposed mandatory landlord licensing scheme would recognise the majority of good landlords who manage their properties properly, while enabling us to deal with the minority who choose not to engage with us, and whose letting and management practices are poor. Mandatory landlord licensing would create a minimum standard for the private rented sector, with landlords needing to show that they have adequate systems in place for their tenants – for example, to report repairs and defects. It would also enable tenants to be confident in their choice to rent, and neighbours to be confident in landlords’ ability to effectively manage their properties. We believe this scheme would be really beneficial for the city, but we will be consulting closely with landlords, tenants, residents and other stakeholders over the coming months, to make sure their views are fully taken on board.”
The move to introduce compulsory landlord licensing of 50,000-plus PRS properties within its authority would build massively on the compulsory licensing of 1,250 Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) by Liverpool city council , which began in 2009 .
During the 12-week consultation period, landlords, tenants and advice agencies will be asked for their opinions, with questionnaires being sent out to tenants. There will also be roadshows and other events to raise the profile of the new mandatory landlord licensing proposals.
A report will then be presented to Liverpool city council in May.
Liverpool City Council has already signed a statement in support of Shelter’s national campaign to stamp out poor and unsavoury practices by rogue landlords.
In 2012, Liverpool City Council took legal action against eight landlords whose rental properties did not meet the minimum legal requirements, resulting in fines and court costs totalling more than £31,000 (GBP).
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) also have objections to Liverpool city councils mandatory landlord licensing proposals and have stated “such licensing schemes are nothing more than political window dressing by local politicians who are already armed with enough legislation and regulations to tackle the problems they face; and no evidence exists to show that licensing works.
As an alternative to selective licensing, the RLA supports a two-pronged approach to raising standards in local private rented sectors:
- The promotion of self-regulation via accreditation schemes;
- Increased enforcement action by local authorities to combat criminal landlords.
The RLA will be monitoring this proposal closely and will publish any further information or developments when the information becomes available in the public domain.
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