Liverpool has announced plans to consult on a new landlord licensing scheme after the government turned down the city’s application to continue operating a citywide scheme.
The new scheme, which will be put to Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet this Friday, would be based on poor property conditions and would cover around 80% of privately rented properties in Liverpool, targeting the 16 wards in the city where at least one in five homes is owned by a private landlord.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government turned down Liverpool’s application to keep its citywide scheme, claiming the council did not provide robust enough evidence to demonstrate the city’s low housing demand.
This was despite the citywide scheme being backed by a majority of residents as well as emergency services such as Merseyside Police and Mersey Fire and Rescue Service.
Liverpool’s planned new scheme would cover around 45,000 of the 55,000 properties in the original scheme, allowing the council to keep its extra powers to drive up housing standards and protect vulnerable tenants.
The Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “We don’t agree with the government’s decision on our original city-wide submission and are still considering ways to challenge it, but I have also been very clear that it is unthinkable for us not to have a landlord licensing scheme in Liverpool.
“All the evidence over the last five years shows that it has made a tremendous difference to the lives of our most vulnerable residents. It has forced rogue landlords to take action to improve electrical and fire safety standards, as well as dealing with issues such as damp and anti-social behaviour.
“This scheme we are proposing would still be one of the largest in the country and cover the vast majority of properties that came under the original programme, and we are confident that it would meet all of the tests to be approved by the government.”
Since Liverpool launched its citywide licensing scheme in 2015, 70% of properties inspected in the city between 2015 and 2020 were found to be in breach of their licence conditions, uncovering a huge problem with unsafe homes.
Liverpool City Council was responsible for 389% of the 460% national rise in prosecutions against rogue landlords between 2012 and 2018, prosecuting almost 250 landlords.
The wards included in the proposed new licensing scheme would be: Central, Riverside, Greenbank, Kensington, Picton, Tuebrook & Stoneycroft, County, Anfield, St Michael’s, Princes Park, Kirkdale, Old Swan, Warbreck, Wavertree, Fazakerley and Everton.
The council is also proposing consulting on two alternative schemes, one based on low housing demand and one based on deprivation. Both of these would include slightly fewer wards than the council’s preferred scheme.
The council says that whichever new scheme it takes forward, it will continue to investigate issues with properties out of the licensing area if it receives complaints and referrals.
Cllr Paul Brant, one of Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet members, said: “We’ve made massive progress and led the way nationally in tackling poor housing conditions and bad property management, and we desperately need a large scheme to continue making a difference and drive up standards in the sector.
“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.”
The council’s Cabinet will consider the new landlord licencing scheme this Friday 17 July. If it is approved, the scheme will be subject to a 12 week consultation from August to October before it is sent for government consideration this December.