Shock as country’s largest landlord licensing scheme is axed by Government

The largest rental property licensing scheme in the country has been shut down by the Government.

Liverpool’s city-wide licensing scheme, introduced in 2015, will not be extended.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has rejected the council’s application to keep it going for another five years.

The scheme, which means that all private landlords across the city must obtain a licence for their rental properties, has the backing of Merseyside police and the fire and rescue service, as well as members of the public who took part in a consultation.

Liverpool City Council has been told that its application “did not demonstrate robust evidence to support the existence of low housing demand across the whole city”.

Government approval is needed for licensing schemes which cover more than 20% of a council’s area.

In Liverpool, the private rented sector accounts for up to half of housing in some areas, and covers 55,000 properties in total.

The city council says that the scheme has been highly successful, and that over 70% of the properties that have been inspected as part of the scheme uncovered hazards such as fire and electrical safety.

The council has carried out over 37,000 compliance actions, issued over 2,500 notices and prosecuted some 250 landlords.

It is asking the Government why an extension to the scheme has been rejected, and may consider a legal challenge.

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said: “This decision is not only ill-thought through and short-sighted, it also puts the lives of some of our most vulnerable tenants at risk.

“This decision flies in the face of the Government’s tough talk on housing standards, particularly around fire safety in rented properties.

“Over the last five years our officers have come across people whose landlords are happy to take their rent while allowing them to live in appalling conditions with unsafe electrics, gas supply and no fire doors to protect them in the event that a blaze breaks out.”

However, John Stewart of the Residential Landlords Association said: “A much more focused approach is required, and we welcome the rejection of the city-wide scheme.”

Isobel Thomson, the CEO of safeagent, formerly NALS, which has been a partner in Liveerpool’s licensing scheme since inception, said: “We were pleased to be involved in the initiative which has helped to improve property and management standards in Liverpool’s Private Rented Sector.

“We are now looking forward to working in partnership with central and local government, within a more coherent national framework of regulation and enforcement.

“It is our hope that sufficient resources will be made available to ensure that standards in the PRS in Liverpool and across England continue to rise.”

The first borough-wide licensing scheme in the country, at the London borough of Newham, was renewed two years ago, but only after a long delay and with one postcode area being left out.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Woodentop

    Licensing scheme did not improve standards????? The council used it as a revenue income. They could have gone after landlords long before, as the regulations to enforce were already there to use. Licensing can prevent a landlord from renting  a property …. how many landlords had prohibitions orders is the real test to the scheme being a success?

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  2. Will2

    So this would have raised circ £22,000,0000 in income ie 55,0000 properties at £400 per property. Result 250 prosecutions cost per prosecution equates to £88,0000 each plus of course they will probably got costs and fines to add to their coffers. Using the stats in the article they inspected circa 70% of the 55000 which means around 38,500 inspected in a 5 year period. This means 30% have not been inspected and landlords have paid circa £400 for a license that is based on no inspection.  More and more councils are going for full boroughwide licensing like Croydon and Lewisham, Enfield to mention a few. I personally regard these councils as rogue councils. This is about fund raising and landlords and ultimately tenants paying the most to help 250 properties.  They have issued 37,0000 compliance notices.  I for one doubt that 70% (compliance notices to inspected property ratio) of all dwellings in Liverpool are dangerous/non complaint by using the council’s own figures (or are they being over zealous?).  I would doubt any liverpool letting agent would agree that 7 out of every 10 houses they rent are unsuitable?  Perhaps a Liverpool agent “on the ground” might care to comment??? Please excuse me if you think I am using statistics in the same way councils tend to do to justify borough wide licensing schemes.

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  3. andrew.stanton@estate-agency-insights-strategies.co.uk

    From a recent conversation that Lord Best had at the annual Neg Conference at the Grovesnor Hotel in December, it was clear to all assembled that landlord licencing was next on the agenda after getting property professionals up to standard. Does this U-turn by the present housing secretary betoken a loosening of restraint and might this jeopardise the whole RoPA enterprise. Maybe after the cabinet re-shuffle we will know more. But, as many are taking exams in readiness to trade should RoPA have the whip hand there is now a level of uncertainty as to Boris’s thoughts on housing. Will it be laissez-faire or more regulation – the jury is out.

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