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Industry body and controversial council at loggerheads over licensing scheme

Liverpool council has completed only 648 of 39,100 licence applications by landlords in the first six months of its controversial scheme. 

The council is one of the few in the country to introduce a blanket licensing scheme - believed to apply to around 5,000 landlords who own 50,000 private sector rental properties. Under the scheme the council determines that any landlord to be granted a licence (for which the landlord pays up to £400 per property) must be ‘fit and proper’.

However, a report in the Liverpool Echo says the poor completion of applications - so far only two per cent - has been revealed as a result of a Freedom of Information request from the National Landlords Association.

Carolyn Uphill, chair of the NLA, is quoted in the article as saying: “Quite frankly it’s embarrassing. If the council can’t process applications or inspect properties, then how can it improve property standards for tenants? At this rate, it will take 13 years to inspect the city’s private rented housing, and 38 years to license them all, so the scheme’s co-regulation partners have got their work cut out.”

The Echo points out that the two per cent completion rate by Liverpool council contrasts with the London borough of Newham which has a similar scheme and which processed 74 per cent of applications in the same time period.

However, the council is fighting back and councillor Frank Hont, cabinet member for housing, is quoted in the paper as saying: “The NLA has fought landlord licensing tooth and nail since day one and have conspired against us to make it as difficult as possible to introduce it and drive up standards for people living in private rented accommodation. We deliberately introduced a staged process for applications and payments because it was what landlord organisations asked us to do, and we listened to their feedback and acted.”

Another council spokesman is quoted as saying: “So far, over 8,600 proposed licence holders who are responsible for over 41,000 properties have commenced the staged application process and we thank them for their co-operation.”

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