Liverpool’s Landlord Licensing scheme was put in place due to the poor conditions of unregulated privately rented property within the city. The idea behind the scheme was to improve living conditions across the city. By doing this, people’s safety and general health would be improved. The scheme was introduced in 2015 and meant that all private landlords operating in the city must obtain a license for their rented properties. This was obtained through proof that said properties were ‘fit and proper’. The scheme allowed for regular inspections to check that properties met the adequate standards for fire, electric and gas safety.
Despite the on-going issue of rogue landlords providing inadequate living conditions in the city of Liverpool, the Landlord Licensing scheme has been stopped by the UK Government. The scheme has been backed by Merseyside Police, Mersey Fire and Rescue Service and most of the city’s citizens.
Overall, the scheme was a success in driving up the standards of rented accommodation within Liverpool. 70% of inspected properties have been found to be in breach of their licence condition since the scheme was launched, uncovering serious hazards such as fire, electrical safety and excess cold. Liverpool City Council issued more than 2,500 legal and fixed penalty notices, as well as prosecuting around 250 landlords. The impact has meant that Liverpool alone has been responsible for 389% of the 460% national rise in prosecutions between 2012 and 2018.
The issue for Liverpool City Council came from the fact that schemes which cover more than 20% of a council area (Liverpool wanted to continue with a citywide scheme for the next 5 years) must receive approval from the government. The government rejected these proposals as they claim there was insufficient “robust evidence” needed to support the application.
Clearly fuming Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, stated “This decision is not only ill-thought through and short-sighted, it also puts the lives of some of our most vulnerable tenants at risk.”
The council are asking the government for detailed clarification as to how they arrived at the decision to disallow a housing scheme which benefits 55,000 properties in total.
However, it has been reported that Mayor Anderson wrote to the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick immediately to question the decision. This has resulted in Liverpool Council officials visiting London to debate the move.
Perhaps insulting to Liverpool City Council and Mayor Anderson is the fact that an east London council was granted permission to undertake a similar scheme, just a week after Liverpool’s was disallowed.
Dr Ian Sinha, paediatric respiratory registrar at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, told Liverpool Council's education and children's social care select committee that poor housing was one of many factors that can cause childhood asthma. This is often overlooked but Liverpool has significantly worse health prospects for people suffering with asthma than the national average. A child suffering with the condition here is 17 times more likely to be admitted to hospital from an asthma attack than a child in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, Dr Sinha said. This is one of many health affects poor housing can have.
Liverpool City Council are said to be still fighting the decision made by the Government and appear to be getting somewhere, at this moment in time.