The National Landlords Association (NLA) is demanding that Liverpool City Council (LCC) delay or postpone its city-wide licensing scheme which is due to become effective 1 April.
That’s because, following legal analysis commissioned by the NLA, its current application process would put every landlord in Liverpool in breach of the law.
For the City Council this must present something of a dilemma, as not only have a considerable number of landlords already registered using the online system, a recent Government directive issued by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis, the deadline of which is fast approaching, says that selective licensing cannot be used on a blanket, city-wide basis.
The NLA claims that the current online application system provided by Liverpool does not allow landlords to comply with the new scheme in a fully legal way. It would make landlords guilty of failing to obtain a licence and prevent them from regaining possession of a rental property, which would be a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The NLA sought legal advice from David Smith of Anthony Gold Solicitors, and following this have challenged the City Council to provide a solution before 1 April 2015. Alternatively, they have said the Council must postpone the ‘go-live’ date so that landlords are not unnecessarily criminalised.
Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer at the NLA, said:
“After seeking legal advice, we believe that the Council has failed to meet its obligations in providing a suitable application process which meets the requirements as set out in law, yet it intends to make it an offence to manage an unlicensed property next week.
“This puts landlords in an impossible position of being unable to comply with the scheme, and consequently unable to use a section notice 21 to gain possession of a property.”
Following the NLA’s first intervention; a letter, sent on 19 March to the Council, a ‘downloadable’ application form was issued which landlords could fill out and return to the Council.
Richard Lambert continued:
“As things stand, we’re strongly advising landlords to avoid the online registration route at all costs and to instead download an application form and fill it out manually in order to escape being put at risk.
“However, we’ve again written to LCC (23rd March) to demand that they implement an operational online application process immediately or postpone the launch of the scheme until they can provide a legal way for landlords to comply”.
The NLA say they first wrote to Liverpool Mayor (Joe Anderson) requesting dialogue to find a solution on 10th March, but has yet to receive a reply (24th March 2015).
The NLA is currently awaiting further response from LCC (as at 12pm, 25th March).
Liverpool landlords in can find more information here
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) March 27, 2015