Industry News Victoria Barker 13/01/2020

Success as Government rejects renewal of city-wide Liverpool licensing scheme

Plans to renew a city-wide selective licensing scheme in Liverpool have been rejected by the Government following campaigning by the RLA.

Liverpool City Council had proposed to renew its city-wide selective licensing scheme for another five years, with the current scheme due to end on 31st March 2020. 

A consultation on the plans was launched by the council last year. In its consultation response, the RLA opposed plans to renew the city-wide licensing scheme for several reasons (outlined below) including that FOI evidence shows city-wide licensing is not required in Liverpool because the need for licensing is not evidenced in some areas of the city.

Government rejects plans to renew the scheme

This week, the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick rejected an application to keep the citywide Landlord Licensing scheme going for another five years. 

The council based the designation of selective licensing on low demand-one of the five criteria to introduce licensing. 

According to Liverpool City Councils website the Liverpool Express, the Government rejected the licensing scheme because the application “did not demonstrate robust evidence to support the existence of low housing demand across the whole city.” 

The Council is set to ask the government for more information about how the decision was reached. and the Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson is writing to the Government about the decision. 

The RLA’s consultation response

In the RLA’s consultation response to the plans, the association opposed the renewal of the city-wide licensing scheme, because:

  • Most ‘breaches’ have been for administrative errors In March, the RLA submitted a Freedom of Information request to Liverpool City Council, requesting a breakdown of the breaches of licence conditions and hazards. The research found most ‘breaches’ identified are administrative rather than physical breaches, such as a landlord failing to have a copy of the tenancy information licence and failing to have copies of the tenancy information pack.
  • Evidence shows city-wide licensing is not required in Liverpool The Council’s Freedom of Information response also shows that several wards in Liverpool have much lower figures when it comes to Category 1 hazards. Allerton, Central, Croxteth, Mossley Hill and Riverside have been found to have proportionally lower figures, compared to other wards covered by the licensing scheme. Therefore, the need for licensing is not evidenced in these areas, and the council should focus its resources on areas it has already identified.
  • A licence will cost £100 more than it currently does The cost of a licence under the new scheme will be £100 more than the current fee. Liverpool City Council has not justified why this is the case.
  • Financial burden for landlords Our research has already shown some landlords are planning to increase rents to mitigate the negative impact of legislative changes including the removal of mortgage interest relief, the removal of the wear and tear allowance and the upcoming Tenant Fees Act.  Renewing the licensing scheme will add another financial burden.

Responding to the Government’s decision to reject the renewal of the city wide scheme, RLA policy manager John Stewart said:

“Liverpool’s application for a second new city-wide application was doomed to failure.  Unlike their initial scheme, the renewal required permission from the Secretary of State, and robust evidence to back the application.

“The RLA made it clear that the council’s evidence failed to justify a city-wide scheme on the basis of low demand.  The council’s own statistics showed increasing house prices and lower void periods across many areas of the city.

“In addition, the operation of the current selective licensing scheme left much to be desired, with long waits for licences and a focus on minor, often administrative breaches, rather than tackling the worst property management and conditions.

“A much more focussed approach is required, and we welcome the rejection of the city wide scheme.”

You can read the RLA’s full response to this consultation here.

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker Communications Officer

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the NRLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our news centre, the weekly e-newsletter, and manages and creates content for the association’s social media channels. She also contributes to our members magazine, Property.

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