Private Landlord Licensing in Liverpool
As it happened in Newham, so it now happens in Liverpool: private landlord licensing. In 2011, Newham Council effected a scheme to license landlords in an attempt to address an ever-growing list of dilapidated properties and rogue landlords. Liverpool is now in consultation for the same. But will landlord licensing truly address the issue, and will it be the wave of the future across London?
One argument against such schemes, whereby landlords must register and pass a ‘fit and proper’ test, is that the licensing only burdens landlords who are already compliant. Rogue landlords, on the other hand, will not elect to register, making a mockery of the process. In my experience, those landlords who don’t follow the law aren’t likely to follow any scheme set up by the councils. Councils across London already have sufficient powers to remove rogue landlords from letting, yet the number of prosecutions is far too low. A new scheme is unlikely to solve the problem if the councils eschew the powers they already have.
I also feel the schemes go too far. They make landlords responsible for the anti-social behaviour of their tenants. This is far from fair or practical. This is especially true when the eviction and possession process is complicated, bulky and takes far too long to complete. Landlords wanting to evict tenants already face a months’ long battle to recover their property. Adding more responsibility under a system already designed mostly to protect tenants is ill advised.
Another effect of the scheme will be to drive up rents even further as landlords pass on the costs of licensing to their tenants. Rogue landlords will benefit from the increase in the market, but will bear none of the costs.
A better answer to this problem is to increase enforcement of the laws and regulations already in place. Until councils are willing to go after these landlords, new schemes will have zero effect.