When the Government refused Liverpool City Council’s request to continue its five-year landlord licensing scheme the authority was shocked – now it has come back with a new bid. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool is making a fresh bid to revive its successful licensing scheme for residential landlords after the original project was shut down by the Government.
In January, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick turned down an application for the scheme, which was launched by Liverpool City Council in 2015, to continue. He said the authority had not provided enough evidence to allow it to continue.
This came as a surprise to Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson who pointed out that during the five-year period, there has been 34,000 inspections of licensed properties which had led to the issuing of 2,500 legal notices and more than 300 successful landlord offence prosecutions.
In August, the council began consultation on a new preferred scheme, based on poor property conditions, targeting the 16 wards in the city where at least one in five homes is owned by a private landlords.
Following that the council has now submitted a proposal for a new scheme to the Government covering around 80% of privately rented properties in Liverpool. It would give the council additional powers to drive up standards and keep vulnerable tenants safe. It would cover areas such as fire and electrical safety hazards, cold and damp.
The wards included would be Central, Riverside, Greenbank, Kensington, Picton, Tuebrook & Stoneycroft, County, Anfield, St Michael’s, Princes Park, Kirkdale, Old Swan, Warbreck, Wavertree, Fazakerley and Everton.
A consultation, which ran from August until October, received feedback in the form of more than 2,000 questionnaires, 601 telephone surveys, numerous virtual and face-to-face meetings, focus groups and in depth interviews involving tenants, residents, landlords and partner organisations.
Tenants, residents and partners were generally supportive of the proposal, with landlords and agents saying that they were against. The council is committed to looking at fees and incentives as well as improving working relationship with landlords and agents.
Deputy Mayor, Cllr Wendy Simon, said: “This life-saving scheme would be one of the largest in the country covering the vast majority of properties that were under the original programme, ensuring landlords meet their obligations, such as putting in smoke detectors and fire doors as required by law.
“The council makes no profit from the scheme. Every single pound we get from landlords would be ring-fenced, paying for our team to be out on the streets every day inspecting homes, chasing disrepair and taking the strongest action against those landlords who refuse to manage and keep their properties safe.”