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  • Buy-to-Let

    Landlord licensing in Liverpool.

    Our local landlords association met up on Tuesday this week. Details here: http://blog.nwpoa.co.uk/

    A local Lib Dem councillor, Richard Kemp CBE was there to discuss the proposed compulsory licensing being introduced in the near future.

    Highlights of the meeting:

    * The councillor was given a *Really* hard time by the association members over licensing.

    * There was no proper explanation of how the licensing will help root out the rogue landlords

    * The licensing fee was *possibly* going to be around £100 per year. Per property. No confirmation at all, and no confirmation if it was going to be per property, or per landlord, but this was the figure that the councillor mentioned had been discussed.

    * The councillor said it was the opinion of his party, and of the government, that compulsory licensing was official government policy, and landlords should embrace it and help shape the direction it takes, not object to it (resistance is futile).

    * The councillor said the money may not be ringfenced for licensing, and may more than cover the cost of the scheme, so may possibly be used by the council for other things.

    * Our local association (North West Property Owners Association) is firmly in opposition to the scheme.

    * The consultation will be a rubber stamp exercise - a "Mayoral Recommendations" document states that any consultation should be thorough enough to stand up to a judicial review, if necessary. Licensing is on its way.

    * Additional/selective licensing (if they are using the Housing Act 2004 as their basis) may not work or stand up to judicial review as a) there is not a citywide oversupply of housing and b) there is not a major problem with antisocial behaviour across the entire city.
    Professional student and residential lettings in Liverpool.
    Twitter: @ToppropertyUK
    It doesn't seem that there is any justification for the licensing other than to, in effect, further tax LL's.

    Richard Kemp CBE, said we should embrace the scheme, what reasons did he give for doing so?
    In Scotland, where landlord registration is mandatory, it has been spectacularly ineffective in dealing with poor practice. The reality is that it's little more than local authority work creation funded by landlords - mostly the responsible ones.
    I sympathise with those who live in quite areas where suddenly they face the prospect of high speed trains or motorways being planned nearby. They would not have known this when they bought their homes and it is indeed unfair that their lives will be changed because of those plans. What I have never been able to get my head around is those who buy homes near airports complaining about the noise of plans? I am also fairly certain that most of the universities in this country were built before most of us were born and the choice to buy a home close to a university must surely have taken into account that universities have students?
    I was very involved in the discussions around HMO Licensing when the Housing Act 2004 was on the drawing board and I well remember that the reasons for HMO licensing were not about students pulling moonies and sharing their joy when they had won a rugby match, nor about legally parking on public roads, producing more than the average household in waste or leaving gardens untended. HMO Licensing was about raising the living standards for those who occupied them, reducing the number of boarded up properties, mainly in the north of England, reducing anti social behaviour which, in those days, meant criminal activities like soliciting, drug dealing, street brawling and removing unsightly dismantled cars/bikes and furniture etc from gardens.
    In my opinion trying to control the spread of student homes in the PRS is 10 years too late and expecting landlords, who by law must allow our tenants “quiet enjoyment”, to interfere with the lifestyle of our tenants is just ridiculous and could only be achieved by stalking them – also against the law. Why are tenants, students or otherwise, any different to any other citizen in this country? The same laws that are applied to owner occupiers can equally be applied to tenants? Are local authorities expected to control the behaviour of their tenants? Of course not, they depend on law enforcement officers to do their job – why then are private landlords any different to public landlords?
    In 2004 Government estimated that there were 640,000 HMO’s in England alone, no one knew how many of these fell into the category of mandatory HMO licensing, just as no one knows how many unlicensed properties are breaking the law 6 years after they should have applied for a licence. If it was not known how many properties were covered by the legislation how is it possible to say whether the legislation has succeeded? If we are not sure whether the legislation that covered mandatory HMOs has succeeded how will be know if further licensing will? More to the point if Government have no way of measuring whether local authorities have met their obligations to enforce HMO licensing why are they allowing them to use additional powers?
    I have been trying to find out how many landlords have been prosecuted since 2006 for not applying for a mandatory licence and I cannot find any statistic on this? If local authorities have even one unlicensed mandatory HMO in their area they should be ensuring that they meet their legal obligations to get that property licensed before taking on further obligations which also will not be met – and cannot be measured.
    Housing Act 2004
    Part 2 — Licensing of houses in multiple occupation

    55 Licensing of HMOs to which this Part applies

    “5) Every local housing authority have the following general duties—
    (a) to make such arrangements as are necessary to secure the effective
    implementation in their district of the licensing regime provided for by
    this Part;”

    As far as using HMO licence fees for other services – from the same source
    7)When fixing fees under this section, the local housing authority may (subject to any regulations made under subsection (5)) take into account—
    (a)all costs incurred by the authority in carrying out their functions under this Part, and
    9b)all costs incurred by them in carrying out their functions under Chapter 1 of Part 4 in relation to Part 3 houses (so far as they are not recoverable under or by virtue of any provision of that Chapter).

    Follow me on Twitter@landlordtweets
    Follow me on Twitter @landlordtweets

    Just a reminder:

    Liverpool’s Landlord Licensing Scheme means that from 1st April 2015 all private landlords in the city must apply for a five-year licence for each of their rented properties.

    The scheme is being introduced in Liverpool under the government’s selective licensing laws and signing up for it is compulsory.

    Find out more >>> here.
    LIVERPOOL City Council has signed a ground-breaking partnership with three organisations representing letting agents and landlords to help drive up standards in the private rented sector.

    The co-regulation agreement – the first of its type in the country – commits their members to providing high standards of housing, meaning that they comply with the conditions of the council’s mandatory Landlord Licensing scheme. It requires all landlords in the city to have a five year licence for each of their rented properties.

    The agreement means that property owners represented by each of the organisations will get a 50 percent discount on the fee and pay £200 per property, rather than the standard rate of £400 for the first and £350 for each subsequent home.

    The organisations that have signed up for co-regulation are:

    · ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents)
    · NALS (National Approved Letting Scheme)
    · RLA (Residential Landlords Association)

    Councillor Frank Hont, Cabinet member for housing, said: “When we launched the Landlord Licensing scheme we were clear that we wanted to work with the private rented sector to help them comply with the scheme, and find ways of giving discounts to those that are committed to meeting the standards.

    “I am delighted that ARLA, NALS and the RLA have all come on board. It is a win-win for everyone, because their members benefit from a reduced fee and we are able to target our resources at those landlords who we know aren’t meeting the standards.

    “This is all part of our drive to improve the quality of housing in the city and make sure that our residents have access to good quality accommodation.”

    David Cox, managing director, Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) says: “We are really pleased to become a co-regulator for the Liverpool Selective Licensing Scheme.

    “We are glad Liverpool City Council has seen the importance of distinguishing between the professional market and those who the scheme is designed to remove from Liverpool’s rental market.

    ARLA welcomes this initiative and hopefully by giving landlords who use our members a 50% discount on licensing fees, it will encourage more landlords to use licensed letting agents. This in turn will further benefit the consumer, by providing them with a wider choice of reputable letting agents who will be bound by the ARLA code of conduct.”

    Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive, NALS said: “We are delighted to be part of a co-regulatory partnership with Liverpool City Council for their Selective Licensing Scheme. We welcome the recognition they have given to NALS agents and the strict criteria they meet in relation to customer service and consumer protection.
    “By offering a discounted licensing fee for those agents who come under a co-regulatory partnership, it is a clear indicator to landlords of which agents they should be using.

    “We would also like to thank Liverpool City Council for their considered and collaborative approach in developing the co-regulation arrangement and we look forward to working with them as the scheme evolves”.

    Andrew Goodacre, Chief Executive of the RLA, said: “The idea of co-regulation has been a key policy feature for the RLA over the past 12 months and we are delighted that Liverpool Council have given us the opportunity to implement a scheme of this nature.

    “The RLA is the only landlord association approved to offer a co-regulation alternative to those landlords in Liverpool who wish to continue to manage their portfolio themselves.

    “There are a growing number of landlords who are choosing to manage their properties directly and our scheme is an ideal vehicle for self-regulation whilst still providing significant savings on the licence fees.”

    Almost 8,500 landlords responsible for around 39,500 properties have so far started the application process for the scheme, which came into effect in April 2015. The City Council has also started to issue the first batch of licences which will be followed by compliance checks to ensure licence conditions are being met and standards maintained.

    In addition, both current and prospective tenants can access a database at https://www.liverpool.gov.uk/landlordlicensing to see if their landlord has started the application process, and can let the council know if it is not on the database.

    Landlords are being urged to log on to complete the first part of the application process if they have not yet done so.

    Landlord licensing has the backing of campaign groups including Shelter and Generation Rent.