Liverpool Council Landlord Licensing Scheme approved by government

The Government has approved a Landlord Licensing scheme covering around 80 per cent of privately rented properties in Liverpool.

The new application follows the rejection in January 2019 by the Government of a proposal for a citywide scheme, which was based on low housing demand.  

An evaluation of the 2015-2020 city-wide licensing scheme found:

  • Over 34,000 inspections of licensed properties had been completed, which identified 65 per cent of properties were not fully compliant on the first visit.
  • Identification of 4,350 cases of the most serious category 1 and 2 hazards including disrepair and excess cold affecting the health and wellbeing of residents.
  • Issuing of more than 2,500 legal notices, 169 formal cautions and 197 written warnings.
  • More than 300 successful landlord offence prosecutions and issuing of 87 civil penalties.

The scheme is pivotal to the success of the City Plan, which commits partners to making sure all residents live in safe, inclusive and welcoming neighbourhoods.

Cabinet Member for Strategic Development and Housing, Councillor Sarah Doyle, said: “This is brilliant news for tenants living in poor housing conditions. Too many vulnerable people in our city are in poor housing conditions, paying rent to a landlord who doesn’t carry out essential maintenance to keep them warm and safe. The Landlord Licensing scheme will give us regulation of private rented houses, so that we can take action when concerns are raised. There is a raft of evidence which shows that council intervention forced bad landlords into taking action to improve their properties. Poor electrical and fire safety standards, as well as damp and anti-social behaviour, contribute to poor health and mental wellbeing.”

About the Licensing Scheme, LPS Director Joe Gervin said: “Selective Licensing in Liverpool is a bit of an enigma. The previous 5 year scheme was City wide and was widely ridiculed as it did not focus on what the legislation was about, i.e. to target anti-social behaviour and areas of low demand. The Government rejected a similar approach by the Liverpool Council in 2019 and after litigation and review Liverpool has been granted the ability to licence almost 80% of the PRS stock.

"The Selective Licence adds a double layer of scrutiny to landlords and the issue with the previous scheme was that good landlords were being targeted over minor administrative errors, like not having an Anti-Social Behaviour clause in tenancies, or failure to erect a copy of their Selective Licence in properties. On one occasion with the last scheme a landlord was fined for a broken fridge shelf.

"We would hope that the new scheme would target bad landlords and those that by-pass the strict adherence to legislation that Guild of Property Professional firms, like LPS Real Estate, push. We also hope that good landlords and good agents aren’t overly scrutinised for minor administrative issues, like failure to insert a certain type of wording in tenancies. We cautiously support the ethos of selective licensing, but we hope the Council take a common sense approach to how it is run and not delve too much into bureaucracy or red tape.

"In 17 years of managing properties in Liverpool I rarely come across a bad landlord or a landlord seeking to avoid legislation. Landlords ultimately have purchased properties as assets and wish to maintain those assets in the same way they’d look after a classic car or their own home. Landlord’s generally want to maintain good standards and thus have happy tenants. The best result for Liverpool and the Private Rental Sector in Liverpool would be for the Licensing Scheme to be run correctly, efficiently and with the intention to guide and assist landlords to best practice rather than fine them, ultimately having landlords improve on living standards and practices."

The scheme will be introduced from April 2022 and will run for five years. More details on the fee for landlords will be revealed in the near future and we will ensure we keep our landlords updated as soon as we hear any more news.