Liverpool’s citywide rental property licensing scheme is helping improve standards within the city just seven months after it began, Liverpool City Council has claimed.
It says anti-social behaviour in ‘targeted’ streets has dropped following the introduction of the scheme, which requires landlords or their agents to manage anti-social behaviour within the properties.
Errants tenants have to be given warnings about their conduct and, where necessary, licence holders must start legal proceedings against them or end their tenancies.
The scheme has attracted several critics, who claim that the licence application form is in breach of the Data Protection Act and that landlords who join the scheme can be prosecuted for non-compliance in relatively grey areas of responsibility, particularly when dealing with anti-social behaviour, and that it requires landlords agents to ‘spy’ on tenants.
The most vocal of these is Larry Sweeney who, in conjunction with website Property118.com, has attacked the ‘sham scheme’ for its failings including its rules on evictions. Sweeney claims the scheme’s rules contravene Section 33 of the Deregulation Act 2015 concerning the period after which a Section 21 notice can be served.
“The scheme has drawn a lot of comment and challenges but taking the wider view of different stakeholders, early evidence suggests that it is helping to drive up standards,” says a council report on the scheme’s progress.
The new rules were introduced in April and landlords and letting agents are required to have a licence for each of the properties they own or manage to ensure that they ‘fit and proper’. When applying for a licence landlords and agents must declare previous convictions for dishonesty, violence or drug-related offices, or breaches of landlord or tenant laws.
Also, properties must meet fire, electric and gas safety standards and be in a good state of repair, while landlords must also deal with tenant complaints effectively.
The scheme is backed by the Association of Residential Letting Agents, the National Approved Letting Scheme and the Residential Landlords Association and their members in Liverpool pay a reduced fee per property of £200. The standard fee per property is £400 for the first and £350 per address thereafter.