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Liverpool City Council is to challenge the Government over its decision not to allow renewal of its landlord licensing scheme.
The scheme had been running since 2015. By the time it expired at the end of March, it had just over 10,000 licensed landlords renting out almost 52,000 properties.
Liverpool Council had wanted to extend the scheme for another five years but its application to be allowed to do this was turned down by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson branded the decision ‘a disgrace’.
‘It defied logic and has put the lives of some of our most vulnerable tenants at risk’, he claimed. ‘As a result of the scheme, the safety conditions of 3,570 properties were improved but the scale of the issues we found is frightening and that’s why we produced the evidence to show why we need to continue the scheme.
‘The council has a moral obligation to protect people from rogue landlords. Many in the private rented sector are good landlords but unfortunately there is a sizeable minority that need to be tackled’.
Now the Council has filed High Court action seeking a judicial review of the decision not to allow renewal of its licensing scheme. It claims the Government has given an ‘inadequate reply’ to its request for further clarification about its decision.
The Council is also ‘actively looking at submitting another application to the government for a substantial landlord licensing scheme’.
While running, the original scheme led to 300 successful prosecutions with fines and, in one case, a prison sentence resulting. It, said Liverpool Council, had the backing of ‘Merseyside Police, Mersey Fire and Rescue Service and the majority of residents who responded to a consultation’.
All current active cases arising from the scheme will continue to be processed and prosecuted where appropriate. Meanwhile, the Council ‘will continue to use its statutory powers to provide help and advice for tenants and landlords, focusing on the licensing and inspection of the 3,000 houses of multiple occupation (HMO), as well as investigating complaints and referrals about private sector housing in Liverpool’.
All existing licence holders renting out a property with five or more tenants, forming two or more households, require an HMO licence, in line with legislation introduced in 2018.