Liverpool Mayor launches legal battle over landlord licensing

Joe Anderson says the Government’s decision not to allow it to continue to protect tenants from rogue landlords was a ‘disgrace’ and is set to challenge it in the High Court. Tony McDonough reports

Houses, housing, homes, landlords
Liverpool’s landlord licensing scheme led to more than 300 successful prosecutions in five years

 

Liverpool City Council is taking the Government to court over its refusal to allow the city’s landlord licensing scheme to continue.

For the past five years, all property owners, landlords and managing agents in the city have been legally required by the city council to licence any property unless a statutory exemption applied.

However, in January Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson was shocked when the Government refused an application for the scheme to continue. He warned the loss of protection would put the the lives of tenants at risk.

For the duration of the scheme there 51,764 property licences in force, issued to 10,074 licence holders, and the team conducted more than 34,000 compliance checks of properties. There were more than 300 successful prosecutions that led to fines and in one case a custodial sentence.

Now the council says it will apply for a Judicial Review of the Government’s decision not to renew the scheme. The legal challenge has been filed with the High Court. Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said the council had “a moral obligation” to tens of thousands of residents living within the city’s private rented sector to ensure the pioneering scheme continued.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick turned down the application to keep the citywide scheme going until 2025 – despite it being backed by Merseyside Police, Mersey Fire and Rescue Service and the majority of residents who responded to a consultation.

The Mayor has instructed the council to pursue legal action after being unhappy with the minister’s “inadequate reply” when asked to clarify the government’s position. 

Alongside the Judicial Review, the council is actively looking at submitting another application to the government for a substantial landlord licensing scheme. Until then, the city council will continue to use its statutory powers to provide help and advice for tenants and landlords.

Mr Anderson said: “The decision not to renew the Landlord Licensing scheme was a disgrace – it defied logic and has put the lives of some of our most vulnerable tenants at risk. As a result of the scheme, the safety conditions of 3,570 properties were improved but the scale of the issues we found is frightening and that’s why we produced the evidence to show why we need to continue the scheme. 

Despite asking for clarity from the Government, who always talk tough on housing standards, their reply has been totally inadequate and on behalf of all those residents who have benefitted from the scheme a Judicial Review has to be issued.

“The council has a moral obligation to protect people from rogue landlords. Many in the private rented sector are good landlords but unfortunately there is a sizeable minority that need to be tackled.”

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