£2m taskforce will target rogue residential landlords across Liverpool and crack down on gangmaster exploitation, sex work and drug dealing. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool City Council has secured £2m from the Government to establish a task force that will tackle rogue and criminal landlords.
Using funding from the Department for Levelling Up, the authority will team up with partner organisations across the city region. These include trading standards, children’s services and Merseyside Police.
It says the aim of the Private Sector Housing Intelligence and Enforcement Task Force is to disrupt landlords who work with of gangmasters and those involved in other types of exploitation, such as sex work and drug dealing.
A dedicated team has been recruited, giving the council additional resources to tackle the most complex types of cases, where often tenants are afraid to report crimes for fear of reprisals.
They will adopt an enforcement strategy after gathering intelligence and carrying out targeted enforcement to drive bad landlords out of the market. They will also work with neighbouring authorities, as often the owners have properties across more than one area.
This fits with the council’s new neighbourhood Model of working, breaking down silos and working more closely with other organisations to improve services.
It will be separate to the city’s Landlord Licensing scheme, which covers around 70% of the privately rented housing sector in the city. This is focused on fire and electrical safety hazards, excess cold and damp, and preventing and tackling anti-social behaviour.
Liverpool City Council Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Sarah Doyle, said: “This taskforce is about tackling criminal rogue landlords who do not care about their tenants, nor our city.
“They are exploiting tenants for their own financial gain, taking advantage of extremely vulnerable people who are afraid to speak out because they are terrified of the consequences.
“Due to the nature of the issues we are dealing with, drawing up evidence is extremely time consuming and complicated, which is why we have secured funding for a dedicated team to work specifically on this.
“This is a key part of our commitment to improving our neighbourhoods and making them better areas for our residents.”