Liverpool’s Labour council, which was prevented by the government from extending its city-wide licensing scheme for another five years, is seeking a Judicial Review of the decision.
The request was filed with the High Court on Friday with the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, calling the licensing regime ”life saving” and claiming the council had “a moral obligation” to tens of thousands of renters to win the case.
Shortly before Christmas the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick turned down the application, which would have seen the city’s existing licensing go on until 2025: however, the dispute with the government since that time has meant that the licensing regime has expired and now there is no such scheme operating in Liverpool at all.
The council insists that the past five years of the scheme has been a success.
There were 51,764 property licences in force, issued to 10,074 licence holders, and the council’s team conducted over 34,000 compliance checks of properties.
It identified 65 per cent as not being fully complaint with licence conditions at first visit.
Council officers discovered what the council describes as a “staggering” 3,375 incidents of the most serious category 1 and 2 hazards across 1,971 inspections. These ranged from fire safety hazards to damp and mould, disrepair and excess cold issues.
There were over 300 prosecutions that led to fines and in one case a custodial sentence for offences including operating unlicensed properties, breaches of licence conditions and failure to comply with legal notices – of which more than 2,600 were served and 87 Civil Penalties were issued.
All current cases that are with the legal team will continue to be processed and taken to court where necessary.
Alongside the Judicial Review, the council says it is looking at submitting another application to the government for what it calls “a substantial landlord licensing scheme.”
Mayor Anderson says in a statement: “The decision not to renew the Landlord Licensing scheme was a disgrace – it defied logic and has put the lives of some of our most vulnerable tenants at risk.
“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.
“Despite asking for clarity from the government, who always talk tough on housing standards, their reply has been totally inadequate and on behalf of all those residents who have benefitted from the scheme a Judicial Review has to be issued.
“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.“