LIVERPOOL City Council says it is intending to ask the Government to extend its landlord licensing scheme for another five years from April next year.
The move follows a three-month consultation held from March to May, which sought views on the cost of the licence, the conditions and the wider benefits of the scheme to tenants and the community.
According to the council, 58% of residents who responded agreed with the conditions laid down by the scheme.
The city first launched the scheme in April 2015 in an effort to drive up standards in the private rental sector. It requires property owners across Liverpool to hold a licence for each of their rental homes.
Over 52,000 licences have been issued since 2015 to around 9,000 landlords and almost 29,000 compliance actions have been carried out by the 55-strong team. Overall, 70% of inspected properties were found to be in breach of their licence conditions. Inspections have also uncovered serious hazards such as fire and excess cold.
It is a criminal offence to rent out a property without the required licence and nearly 2,200 legal notices have been issued, with 110 fixed penalty notices issued, and 19 successful prosecutions.
“Over the last five years, Landlord Licensing has got us through the door at tens of thousands of private rented properties – and in the majority of cases we have found they need action to bring them up to standard,” said city mayor, Joe Anderson.
“Poorly managed properties have a negative impact on tenants and blight neighbouring properties and communities, so a well-managed private rented sector is key to helping improve our residents’ lives.
“Our licensing team has found many shocking examples of landlords happy to take rent off their tenants, while providing them with substandard accommodation, often with issues around heating, damp and poor electrics.
“We’ve made massive progress and led the way nationally in tackling poor housing conditions and bad property management, but we believe we need to continue with the scheme beyond 2020 to continue making a difference and drive up standards in the sector.”
The Landlord Licensing team works alongside street scene officers, Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and other partners to identify unlicensed properties and address issues on non-compliance.
Liverpool council says that following feedback during the consultation, it has reviewed the fees originally proposed for the scheme, down from £550 to £450 per property, while licence holders for accredited properties will be subject to a £300 fee per property licence, rather than the £350 originally proposed.
The Cabinet is to consider a report at its meeting on Friday 19 July recommending the council seek approval from the Secretary of State for the scheme to continue. A decision is expected in the autumn.
“This is about creating a level playing field for the sector and making sure tenants have an understanding of the standards they should expect,” said Councillor Lynnie Hinnigan, deputy mayor and cabinet member for housing.
“Every single penny we get is ringfenced for the landlord licensing service, with our team out on the streets every day inspecting properties, chasing disrepairs and taking landlords to court when they don’t sort out the problems.”