A second local authority in England is set to bring in compulsory licensing of every private rental property on its territory.
Liverpool City Council has launched a consultation for the introduction of a citywide licensing scheme affecting over 50,000 properties.
The move follows that of Newham, in London, which became the first council to introduce mandatory licensing of all private rental properties on January 1. Its scheme covers an estimated 35,000 households.
Liverpool City Council is planning to introduce its scheme later this year, with the consultation due to run until April.
As in Newham, it would mean that all property owners who rent out their properties would need to apply for a licence, agreeing to comply with a minimum set of standards. A breach of the conditions could lead to a fine or revocation of the licence.
The city council says the plans aim to “support the city’s pledge to work with the majority of responsible landlords, support their businesses and create a level playing field for all, while cracking down on landlords who do not manage their properties properly.
“The licensing scheme would also help empower tenants – who currently have no way of knowing the quality of their prospective landlord – and help them make informed choices.
“And it would protect residents who have suffered from neighbouring properties being bought by landlords who have then let them indiscriminately to unsuitable tenants.”
Liverpool’s cabinet member for housing, Cllr Ann O’Byrne, said: “It’s vital that we do all we can to work with landlords across Liverpool to drive up the quality of our private rented properties. Many areas which suffer blight in the city are characterised by large numbers of poorly managed private rented properties, leading to problems such as anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping.
“The proposed licensing scheme would recognise the majority of good landlords who manage their properties properly, while enabling us to deal with the minority who choose not to engage with us, and whose letting and management practices are poor.
“Licensing would create a minimum standard for the private rented sector, with landlords needing to show that they have adequate systems in place for their tenants – for example, to report repairs and defects. It would also enable tenants to be confident in their choice to rent, and neighbours to be confident in landlords’ ability to effectively manage their properties.
“We believe this scheme would be really beneficial for the city, but we will be consulting closely with landlords, tenants, residents and other stakeholders over the coming months, to make sure their views are fully taken on board.”
The council’s move to license 50,000-plus properties would build massively on Liverpool’s compulsory licensing of 1,250 Houses in Multiple Occupation.
During the 12-week consultation period, tenants, landlords and advice agencies will be asked for their opinions, with questionnaires being sent out to tenants. There will also be roadshows and other events.
A report will then be presented to the council’s cabinet in May.
Liverpool City Council has signed a statement of support for Shelter’s national campaign to stamp out rogue landlords.
Last year, Liverpool City Council took legal action against eight landlords whose property did not meet legal requirements, resulting in fines and court costs totalling more than £31,000.