Council accused over landlord licenses

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Liverpool city centre. Photo: Ida Husøy

Liverpool city centre. Photo: Ida Husøy

Liverpool City Council has come under fire after being accused of a failure to issue landlord licenses across the city.

After almost a year, the council has only handed out 2% of applicants’ licenses, in figures which surfaced from a Freedom of Information request made by the National Landlords Association.

The NLA represents 64,000 landlords nationwide and they have always strongly opposed the scheme, as they claim it is not selective and has cost them thousands in fees and added bureaucracy.

The initial fee costs £400 for the first property and £350 for subsequent homes, and the licence lasts for five years.

After Liverpool introduced the scheme, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis stepped in and changed the law to prevent any other local authority introducing a similar scheme without prior approval from central government.

Carolyn Uphill, chair of the NLA, said: “Quite frankly it’s embarrassing. If the council can’t process applications or inspect properties, then how can it improve property standards for tenants?

“At this rate, it will take 13 years to inspect the city’s private rented housing, and 38 years to license them all, so the scheme’s co-regulation partners have got their work cut out.”

The NLA states on its website that landlords “believe that there could be a potential conflict of interests in fulfilling this role for the local authority”.

It adds: ‘The NLA does not believe that the conditions proposed by the council, which co-regulators will be responsible for enforcing, are entirely justified and is concerned that there are few checks on the authority’s ability to introduce new rules that may prove onerous towards landlords.”

City councillor Frank Hont, who is part of the cabinet for housing, told the Liverpool Echo: “The NLA has fought Landlord Licensing tooth and nail since day one and have conspired against us to make it as difficult as possible to introduce it and drive up standards for people living in private rented accommodation.”

About Stephanie Sweeney, JMU Journalism