Liverpool City Council’s landlord licensing scheme is a vanity project that will fail to protect tenants from crooks.
That’s the warning from the Residential Landlords Association as the council’s new licensing scheme comes into force.
From today, all private landlords in the city must apply for a five-year licence for each of their rented properties as a way, the council argues, of improving standards in the sector.
With over 23% of households in the city in private rented housing, the RLA is warning that the scheme will not protect tenants.
Whilst the council has introduced the measure, it is also cutting the budget of the Environmental Health Department, responsible for enforcing the scheme, by up to 25%.
Independent research for the Residential Landlords Association has also warned that such a scheme leads to increased rents.
The research, published last year and conducted by Michael Ball, Professor of Urban and Property Economics at the University of Reading said of such registration schemes:
“Faced with higher costs and more hassle, landlords will try to pass the costs on in higher rents; or quit the industry; or invest less.”
With the North West Property Association today formally joining the Residential Landlords Association, Alan Ward, Chairman of the RLA said:
“Liverpool’s licensing scheme is a populist vanity project that will do little to improve standards.
“The crooks won’t come forward, tenants will shoulder the cost of the scheme in higher rents and the council will not be able to enforce its own measures.
“Many of the standards which landlords will be expected to meet are already legal requirements. It is disingenuous to suggest they are somehow new.”
The RLA believes a more effective model, outlined in its manifesto for the sector, would be to change council tax forms. This would mean tenants would be able to identify if their property is rented and if so, who their landlord is. Crucially, it would prevent criminal landlords evading scrutiny and provide the council with vital intelligence which they do not currently have.
Alan Ward continued:
“Liverpool and councils across the country need to get smarter in their thinking.
“With council budgets being cut and no party proposing to reverse them we need to move beyond proposals that only finds the majority of good, decent landlords.
“The RLA’s alternative would provide councils with the intelligence they need to prevent the crooks that bring misery to tenants lives from evading scrutiny. Only then can we bring the book down on those who should not be renting properties out.”
- The RLA represents almost 20,000 private sector residential landlords in England and Wales.
- According to the 2011 Census, of the 206,515 households in the Liverpool City Council area, 48,290 were in the private rented sector just over 23% of all households. Details here
- In January 2014, Liverpool City Council outlines plans to cut all “mandatory” services, including environmental health, by “up to 25%.” Details here
- Professor Michael Ball’s report, The impact of regulation on the private rented sector, is available here
- The RLA’s manifesto for the private rented sector can be accessed here