26 October 2020
Submitted by email to [email protected]
Acorn Liverpool has supported Liverpool City Council’s Citywide Landlord Licensing Scheme, we offered support during the review period and have campaigned to retain the citywide element of the scheme for some time. We believe it is imperative that the city’s renters are protected by this scheme and are extremely concerned about the two tier system this Selective scheme is at risk of encouraging and the postcode lottery faced by renters in the future.
We have considered the Council’s proposals and paid particular attention to the detail provided regarding the “preferred scheme”. In order to properly represent the views of our members and supporters we have surveyed them (between 14-24 October 2020) in relation to the citywide and selective schemes and the responses to our survey will inform our response.
We received 66 responses from across the city (Allerton and Hunts Cross, Anfield, Belle Vale, Central, Childwall, Church, Clubmoor, County, Cressington, Croxteth, Everton, Fazarkerley, Greenbank, Kensington and Fairfield, Kirkdale, Knotty Ash, Mossley Hill, Norris Green, Old Swan, Picton, Princes Park, Riverside, Speke-Garston, St Michael’s, Tuebrook and Stoneycroft, Warbreck, Wavertree, West Derby, Woolton and Yew Tree).
Areas that will not be covered by the selective scheme being proposed are Croxteth, Norris Green, Yew Tree, Knotty Ash, Clubmoor, West Derby, Childwall, Church, Allerton and Hunts Cross, Belle Vale, Woolton, Cressington, Speke – Garston, Mossley Hill. Those areas that may not be covered in the second and third options in the Council’s proposal are St Michaels, Central and Greenbank. We have responses from residents of all of these areas. We wish to respond on behalf of Acorn Liverpool’s committee, members and supporters with a view to encouraging greater protections for all private renters across the city.
1. Your Connection to the City of Liverpool?
Acorn Liverpool is a branch of the UK wide tenants and community union made up from working class communities : Renters, workers, residents.
We are a member-led organisation supporting and empowering low-income communities across the country to fight for a better life.
We know that the economic and political set up in this country isn’t working for us, so set up ACORN Liverpool in May 2019 to give local people the power and representation they’re entitled to.
We currently have paid up members in Liverpool and in other areas of the city-region, as well as dozens more supporters who have been active in our Covid-19 Community Support Network and our Community Protection Network.
We have supported tenants across the city and have worked with local community organisations, grassroots initiatives and councillors and MPs to improve the conditions of renters in Liverpool
2. To what extent do you believe each of the following to be a problem in some areas of Liverpool?
Poor property conditions
Acorn Liverpool has extensive experience of poor property conditions across the city. The majority of member cases have come from poor conditions in the PRS sector. We are aware that very often landlords do not provide conditions that they themselves would wish to live in for their tenants and regularly place profit above the comfort and wellbeing of the tenants. The landlord licensing scheme addressed this in a number of ways. It encouraged a better quality of accommodation than that required by general Housing legislation.. It was a deterrent in that landlords knew that once their licence had been granted should standards fall below those expected tenants had a local option for enforcing the standards under the regulations. The team was self-funded and to have better provision and man power than other departments heavily impacted by government cuts which led to better responsiveness and outcomes for tenants. For landlords who want to provide decent homes for their tenants the scheme provided a blueprint and standard for them to follow making it less labour intensive for them to ensure their properties were of an adequate standard, all for one extremely reasonable fee. The responses to our survey cover the vast majority of wards in the city, as detailed above. The responses show that poor property conditions are widespread.
Our members have made a number of comments on property conditions within the city:
- Have worked in housing related support for the past 12 years in different roles. Have witnessed appalling living conditions in the private rented sector, particularly maintenance issues.”
- ... property conditions are a serious problem with tenants living in inadequate properties with serious disrepair having been unaware of the help they can get from LCC or having tried to get help and failed.
- I have seen properties that are damp, and have meant that furniture has become unusable and has impacted on occupiers health and well being.
- Just walk up St Mary's road [Garston] and the surrounding streets you'll see the terrible state of properties and the litter.
- [I] Work as a visitor in the community in Liverpool visiting residents in their own home as part of my job, I have seen poor properties across the city.
- The private rental properties that I have lived in around the Smithdown Road area are not well maintained. I had dust mites and very poor heating during my final year of studies at the University.
- Many landlords and estate agents treat their tenants appallingly. Leaving houses half finished, leaking, and unlivable.
- I've experienced very poor housing conditions as a private renter. Landlords need to be held to account for the conditions of their properties.
- Many houses in areas of the south [of Liverpool] are just left to rot, I know this is the case in other parts of the city too. Then any kind of redevelopment, such as the Welsh streets, makes these houses too expensive for local people who lived in the area already.
The vast majority of our respondents believe that property conditions across the city are a very big or a fairly big problem. Only 8.2% did not choose these options and all of those stated “don’t know.”
A very big problem - 49.2%
Deprivation is an issue across the city. In many wards deprivation is an issue which permeates throughout the ward, in others it is confined to pockets of deprivation. We are extremely concerned that many extremely deprived renters in this city will not be protected under the proposed schemes.
The vast majority of our members are renters. Rents across the city are increasing whilst wages are not and unemployment is increasing. We are concerned that the levels of deprivation which already exist are only going to increase as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit. The impact that these seismic challenges will have upon already insecure communities cannot be underestimated. It is highly likely that deprivation rates will continue to increase. (please see additional detail regarding deprivation below.
Our member in Princes Park ward stated “I live in an area where fly tipping, littering, poorly maintained fronts/ gardens and deprivation are very big problems.”
Another living in the Riverside ward notes “The whole of Liverpool is becoming areas of deprivation and then gentrified areas increasing.” Another residing in the South of the city stated that Belle Vale is much more deprived than other areas in the South excluded from the scheme.
Another member stated:
Many of these areas suffer from extreme deprivation. This two tier system will inevitably increase the gap between areas. Those not covered by the scheme will face the possibility of worse property conditions and less protection from eviction by bad landlords.
Acorn Liverpool supports these concerns and expands on them later in the response.
Only 3.1% of respondents said they did not know if deprivation was a problem in the city. The remaining 96.9% stated that it was either a very big or a fairly big problem.
Very big problem - 83.1%
Vacant / empty properties
We are aware that vacant properties are a huge problem in our city. Many are owned by private landlords, are unfit for human habitation and a left to rot without being of any use to the community. Many have been bought up by property developers and are being changed from family homes to HMOs to increase profit. Others are “luxury” accommodation set at unaffordable rents for the vast majority of renters in the city. We are extremely concerned about the impact this has on the housing market with such a large number of properties effectively unusable and such a large number of renters desperate for affordable, decent, secure homes. We recognise the impact that vacant properties have on local communities. Members have come to us facing issues such as: living in a building site; feeling at risk and abandoned on streets with numerous dilapidated properties; feeling left behind as PRS properties are bought by developers and communities are torn apart; an increase in fly-tipping and litter where properties are left empty; living amongst disposed of household contents and building supplies; struggling to find affordable “family” homes whilst there is an abundance of available “luxury” apartments for “professionals” and students; high numbers of rough sleepers and statutorily homeless people whilst properties stand empty.
Our members made the following comments on this issue:
- “We have rows of derelict homes which must be utilised by community led housing projects otherwise they will be snapped up by developers and local people will not be able to live in them. We need better compulsory purchasing orders in order to take lots of vacant properties back under the council control so that they aren’t left to ruin or someone’s cash cow!”
- “I worked in Croxteth it has it's fair share of vacant properties being left to rot”
- “There are far too many properties which are vacant and unsuitable for people to live in whilst on the other hand vast numbers of people are on the social housing list desperately trying to find secure and well kept homes for them and their families.”
- “It is clear walking through some areas in Merseyside like Everton, Kensington and Fairfield, and Anfield that there are extremely deprived houses alongside large numbers of vacant properties.”
- “Significant numbers of empty luxury apartments when people in the community don't have access to basic accommodation.”
- “From my personal experience empty properties and rubbish are a massive problem.”
20% of respondents said they did not know if empty properties were a big problem. The remaining 80% stated that it was a very or fairly big problem.
A Very big problem - 50.8%
Rubbish in front gardens or front gardens that are messy / poorly maintained -
Problems with gardens is a regular issue for our members. Many complain of poorly maintained areas that are unsafe for their children to play in or unfit for them to make use of. Many cases we have dealt with relating to poor property conditions also include issues relating to the outdoor areas of the properties including landlords using gardens and yards for storing building supplies, outdoor spaces used to dump rubbish etc during refurbishments or disrepair, even using the areas for parking vehicles. It is a well known complaint that poorly maintained outdoor areas impact greatly on the enjoyment of their homes and the desirability of the area for incoming tenants.
One respondent from Riverside ward told us:
My landlord couldn't be bothered to get a skip when they did a job at the house..dumped all the rubble and clay on a flowerbed in the front garden. Also dumped huge rocks on a flower bed out in the back garden. Dug up most of the beautiful flowers and shrubs too. Left lots of stone paving slabs propped up all round the back garden.
13.9% of respondents stated that this was not a big prob;em or not a problem at all, whilst the vast majority of respondents stated that this was a very big or fairly big problem.
A fairly big problem - 38.5%
Many respondents stated that littering is an excessive problem throughout Liverpool.On Respondent stated that “Litter issues are huge in Central ward, particularly in and around London Road (including used needles being left on the street and outside properties!)”
A member from Kensington-Fairfield Ward stated that there is “Litter down every street” and one from St Michaels ward that there is “Lots of litter everywhere.” A Wavertree resident said “I’ve never seen so much rubbish all over the streets, it’s insane, do road sweepers not exist in this city.”
15.4% said that littering was not a very big problem. 83.1% agreed that it was a very or fairly big problem.
A very big problem - 44.6%
As with poorly maintained gardens and littering fly-tipping severely impacts tenants’ enjoyment of their living space and can seriously damage mental well-being. Many members responding to our survey provided information on fly-tipping in the city.
A member told us that there is “fly tipping everywhere in Picton, rats, mice”. Another, from St Michaels ward, stated “Seen a lot of fly tipping nearby.”
Others told us:
- “Fly tipping and littering is an issue across the city witnessed as a resident and a worker travelling across the city. Worst areas for fly tipping parts of L7 and L15, L6, L14, parts of L4 parts of L8. In other words in some of the most deprived areas.”
- “Horrendous fly tipping and littering in Vauxhall, near JMU campus and near the paintball centre...Fly tipping around the railway tracks, Copperas Hill and near Liverpool university north campus.”
- “You only have to drive around the city to see many areas with huge problems of fly tipping, vermin and litter. I have to drive around the city for work as a care worker and see terrible problems in wavertree, toxteth, kirkdale, anfield, belle vale. And in Garston there's huge problems as well.”
- “Fly tipping is huge in Vauxhall and Bootle areas.”
3.1% of respondents feel that fly-tipping is not a very big problem. 81.5% feel it is a very or fairly big problem.
A very big problem - 44.9%
3. To what extent do you agree or disagree that the previous licensing scheme was effective in improving the quality and management of privately rented properties in Liverpool?
Acorn believes that as far as it goes the scheme was successful. We noticed that response time and time dedicated to cases referred to the PRS team at Liverpool City Council was much better than in other areas of the Council. We are led to conclude that this is as a result of the ring fenced funding the scheme generated via the licensing fee. We believe this model is extremely beneficial for a cash-strapped Council Bearing the brunt of Tory cuts to local government, with a 62% cut to the budget in the 9 years to November 2019.
The scheme allowed for allocated funds to assist in the improvement of housing standards in the PRS across the city. We believe that increased enforcement capacity would allow for more proactive enforcement of the requirement to obtain a license in the first place. We also believe that greater promotion of the existence of the scheme and education within the community as to their rights under it and the mechanisms by which they can exercise these rights and obtain the protections the scheme offers would have ensured a greater impact on the PRS citywide over the 5 years.
We believe that in individual cases the scheme: protected tenants from eviction under section21; improved conditions in individual properties; led to landlords with multiple properties prosecuted or fined under the scheme ensuring that all of their properties were brought up to standard; drove out landlords from the city who were unwilling to register their properties or comply with the requirements of the scheme. Where tenants were aware of the existence of the scheme it absolutely did offer additional protections to renters in precarious situations and helped to redress the imbalance of power which under our national system always falls in favour of the landlord.
Respondents’ comments included: “The scheme allowed for allocated funds to assist in the improvement of housing standards in the PRS across the city.” and “In my job role I have had support from the licensing team to support tenants .”
In fact the only negative comment regarding the scheme came from a self-described landlord who stated that the system was ”Far too bureaucratic.” We cannot comment regarding the application process but can say that from the point of view of tenants our experience was that reporting was easy and if further information was required it was taken in a straightforward manner without apparent gate-keeping of services or unnecessary bureaucracy.
Tend to agree
4. To what extent do you agree or disagree that continuing some form of licensing scheme would improve/further improve the quality and management of privately rented properties in Liverpool?
We agree that a licensing scheme needs to continue in the city. Private renters continue to face serious problems in their properties as described above and as seen or experienced by our members on a daily basis. We agree with the Council’s assertions that a licensing scheme serves to improve the quality of life for individual tenants, improves standards in the PRS in the areas under license and improve local areas in general impacting on the living conditions and wellbeing of the community in the affected areas.
Poor standards persist across the city as do the conditions that exist in areas where communities are transient, properties lie empty and landlords fail to invest in their stock for the benefit of the tenants and the wider community. Recent issues such as Brexit and Covid-19 are likely to have increased the deprivation indicators across the city pushing private tenants to accept ever lower standards of accommodation in order to be able to pay the rent. Increased unemployment and wages below the national average in most areas of the city will lead to more tenants in insecure situations, greater pressure on the Property Pool Plus RSL scheme and increased numbers of rough sleepers and statutorily homeless. In these circumstances where protections for renters are not provided by national government, nationwide legislation the Landlord Licensing Scheme.
One member explained Tenants deserve protection. They are often people with the least power, in situations that are already precarious or stressful. They should have some recourse when it comes to landlords who fail to keep properties maintained, increase rents, or evict tenants in order to chase higher rents.
Strongly agree (95.5% of respondents confirmed that they strongly agree that a new citywide licensing scheme is required, 3% said they did not agree and 1.5% told us they didn’t know.)
5. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the principle that the council should continue with some form of selective licensing scheme?
We believe that the city must have landlord licensing in force. We are extremely concerned however by the fact that a selective scheme will be introduced. We are also concerned by the length of time the city will have been without licensing of PRS properties by the time a new scheme would commence, and the detrimental impact this is likely to have had on the PRS in the interim.
Though we have had assurances that the Council will continue to accept reports and investigate in areas where the scheme is no longer operating we received the following comments from members who have tried to report issues since the scheme ended in March and failed to see results:
- Our fridge was broken for months, we contacted a councillor for advice but eventually it was resolved.
- There is damp in the kitchen and when it rains, rain water falls onto the electric cooker. No one has been in touch after we reported it.
- Clients have struggled to get assistance even in cases with very serious disrepair. It is unclear if this is as a result of covid, loss of powers or loss of funding via the registration fee but there seems to be a marked change in the service provided.
We are concerned that without the legal force of the licensing scheme the Council will be powerless to enforce the same standards in areas excluded from the scheme. We are concerned that the more limited scheme will not be funded to the level required to fund members of the department to act on complaints from areas outside of the scheme. We base these concerns on the experiences described above, the experiences of members not quoted in the survey and the experiences of interactions with departments relating to the enforcement of Environmental Health protections outside of the scheme.
We are extremely concerned about the impact that a selective scheme will have on areas no longer covered, particularly those areas of serious deprivation (detailed below). One respondent explained our view succinctly:
Especially during periods when it is a landlords market, like now, landlords NEED to be subject to the same regulation, and moral regulation, equally wherever they are operating. Why anyone can reasonably think otherwise is impossible to understand.
Strongly Disagree- as above 95.5% believe we should have a citywide licensing scheme.
6. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the Council’s proposal to introduce a new selective licensing scheme covering this area/these 16 wards?
See answer provided below.
7. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following possible alternatives to the preferred scheme?
A scheme covering 14 wards based on high levels of deprivation
A scheme covering 13 wards based on low housing demand
Strongly disagree - In view of the current parameters used for designation we strongly disagree with these two proposals on the basis that implementation will leave even more areas of the city without the additional protections of the licensing scheme.
8. Please use the space below to provide any comments about the area that any new licensing scheme should cover, and explain any alternative approaches to improving property condition and management that you think the Council should consider.
Acorn Liverpool recognises the legislative constraints of the scheme as enacted by the Government under the Housing Act 2004. We note that areas cannot be designated unless the proportion of PRS properties in the area amount to more than the national average. This stands at 19% up to 2018-2019. Acorn has been unable to find publicly available information regarding the proportion of PRS properties in each ward across the city. We note that the Council has proposed 16 areas as meeting the conditions for designation.
We are concerned that the Council had previously felt that 100% of the city’s PRS was eligible for designation under the scheme as can be seen by their application to extend the citywide scheme from March 2020. We also note that the Council have publicly stated that they continue to pursue a legal challenge of the decision to refuse to grant the renewal of the citywide scheme. On this basis it appears that all wards within the city must meet the legal criteria for designation, that they have 19% or more of their housing stock made up of PRS housing. We choose to accept that this is the case and the remainder of our response here relies on this being accurate.
We do not have accurate figures regarding property conditions in the city and submit the responses from members and information regarding our own campaigns in the answers above. The remainder of this answer relates to deprivation figures on which we do have publicly available seemingly accurate information.
We believe that a designation relating to deprivation may allow the city to apply for a scheme covering a wider area of the city.
The proposed scheme will not come into force until Summer 2021 at the earliest, we would argue that the deprivation test should be adjusted to ensure that pockets of deprivation within more wealthy wards are not missed. We would also suggest that given the inevitable impact that Brexit and the continued Covid-19 pandemic will have on our local community the deprivation criteria must be reassessed prior to the submission of any application. We are extremely concerned that areas of deprivation in excluded wards will suffer from the lack of protection under the scheme and we will see an increase in no fault evictions, additional PRS properties bought up by landlords in attempts to avoid registering their properties under the scheme and further deterioration of property conditions.
We believe that all private renters in the city require equal protections and call on the Liverpool City Council to reconsider their capacity to present an application to the MHCLG which evidences the need for licensing in all wards citywide. We would recommend that pockets of deprivation or poor property conditions in otherwise wealthy wards are, at the very least, listed and included within any application. The existence of high standard properties and wealthier residents within a ward in no way negates the need for those in the ward who do not benefit from these conditions requiring protection.
We are extremely concerned about the following wards which are excluded from the scheme and suffer from high levels of indicators of multiple deprivation:
Belle Vale - 50% of the LSOAs in this area are in the bottom 10% in the UK, 10 out of 12 are in the bottom 20%.
Clubmoor - All of the LSOAs in this ward are in the bottom 20% of most deprived in the UK. 12 out of 14 are in the bottom 10% and 6 out of 1 are in the bottom 5%
Speke-Garston - 8 out of 13 of the LSOAs in the ward are in the bottom 5% of most deprived in the UK, 10 out of 13 in the bottom 10% and 12 in the bottom 20%.
Croxteth - More than 50% of the LSOAs in the ward are in the 20% most deprived in the UK. more than third are in the bottom 5%.
Yew Tree - More than 50% of the LSOAs in the ward are in the 20% most deprived in the UK, around one third are in the bottom 5%.
Norris Green - Almost 75% of the LSOAs in the ward are in the bottom 5% most deprived in the UK, 5/6 are in the bottom 10%.
We believe that the failure to include these wards in any of the proposals will leave some of the most deprived people in the UK without the protections they deserve. Property prices in these areas are below the Liverpool average. The low prices coupled with the lack of regulation is likely to encourage landlords to buy to let in these areas in order to increase profit without regulation. We are also concerned that the unemployment count presented in the Council’s figures are outdated, based on government claimant figures up to March 2018. The impact of Covid-19 and Brexit is not measured in these figures and the level of deprivation on this basis is likely to be outdated and inaccurate at the time of application or implementation.
We are extremely concerned that these areas of high deprivation will become more deprived and undesirable. The people most likely to reside in these areas will be the most vulnerable in our society and the hardest to reach. A scheme as proposed is likely to cause deterioration in these areas of housing conditions, living conditions and problems related to poor living standards such as litter and fly-tipping. We are extremely concerned about the impact on deprived areas of being seen as areas for poor landlords to move into and would strongly encourage the council to reconsider the areas mentioned above on this basis. We would also encourage the Council to clearly state what protections will be offered to renters in these areas of the city should they be excluded from the scheme given the very real risk of the emergence of “slum” type landlords in these areas, the very limited funding for other Council departments generally and the existence of over ten thousand Liverpool tenants and their households who will have limited protections in law.
Our members showed great concern regarding the suggested scheme which will exclude many wards across the city. Comments included: “this is a terrible idea, why aren't we subject to the same protections as the rest of the city?” from a resident of Speke-Garston;
- “I have supported service users in Croxteth, Clubmoor and Norris Green that face substandard living conditions and unregulated, immoral landlords that care little for their tenants’ wellbeing. This often exacerbates vulnerable people’s mental and physical health conditions and impacts on the happiness and health of children.”;
- “Working class renters in North Liverpool and students in Kensington, Central and Greenbank face these same injustices, just in different forms. All renters in the city need proper protections against dodgy landlords. A lack of proper landlord regulation impacts the most vulnerable most severely. I have seen the powerlessness and mental health crises that formerly homeless individuals on low incomes face when confronted with unsafe living incomes face when confronted with unsafe living conditions and an inability to do anything about it.”
- I think this is a great injustice. Landlords should be regulated in every neighbourhood ward because this is the only way to ensure all tenants have a habitable and safe place to live. The Landlord licensing scheme proved a great success in driving up standards; and standards needed driving up because too many properties are in unhabitable and unsafe conditions. This is the case city-wide and so there needs to be a city-wide approach.
- Why would these areas not be included? Landlord licensing is a positive step to keep landlords in line with the law they often think they're above. A lot of these areas have pockets of poverty too, seems like a way to leave low income renters behind.
- As a private landlord i think it would be better to have a consistent city wide licensing scheme.
- The scheme must cover the whole of the city. Not only would that be fairer to tenants but many landlords hold properties in multiple areas, some covered by the scheme and some not, so the unscrupulous ones will just shift their problems, spending money on upkeep where they're forced to by the scheme, but doing even less and charging higher rents in properties that aren't covered to cover their losses.
- This will simply move more private landlords into these areas and have a negative effect on the local communities
We return to the fact that Acorn’s preferred option is a renewed citywide licensing scheme. All renters are, by their very nature, in a less stable, secure and powerful position than their property owning counterparts. On this basis we call on the Council to consider the basis on which they previously believed all wards of the city could be designated under the scheme and seek to redouble their efforts to prepare either a new application on this basis or to ensure success in their legal challenge of the previous scheme. Acorn Liverpool supports any such action by the Council and offers our services to assist in any way they would consider helpful. All renters in our city deserve protection from this scheme.
9. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following proposed approaches to licence fees?
Landlords who apply within an initial window at the start of the scheme should receive an ‘Early Bird’ discount
Landlords with a ‘New Rental’ property who apply after the scheme has started (but within a set timeframe after the purchase/a tenancy starting) should receive a discount
Landlords should receive a discount for properties that have an Energy Performance Certificate of C or above
Landlords should receive a discount where they let multiple flats within the same block
Neither agree nor disagree
We believe that those owning multiple flats in the same block are benefitting from the rental yield on each property and this seems to be a discount provided to landlords with more funds available to pay. We do not believe that discounts should be provided in this situation.
We accept that where a property has an EPC of C or above this suggests that the property is in relatively good state of repair and suggests that the conditions for the tenant are higher than minimum standards (legally all rented properties are required to have an EPC rating of E or above). We tend to agree that a discount may be reasonable in these cases.
We note the decision not to grant discounts in specific circumstances and would be grateful of information as to whether landlords pursued or prosecuted for non-licensing or poor conditions under the previous scheme will be allowed to benefit from discounts in any future scheme.
Please share your views on the proposed fees by indicating whether you feel each fee is too high, about right, or too low.
£570 per property for a standard Full Property Licence - About right
£400 per property for an Early Bird Property Licence - About right
£400 per property for a New Rental Property Licence - About right
£350 per property for an Early Bird/New Rental Property with EPC rating at C or above - Too low
£350 per property for an Early Bird/New Rental Property, which is a ‘Multi Flat’ - Too low
£300 per property for an Early Bird/New Rental Property with EPC rating at C or above, which is a ‘Multi Flat’ - Too low
The breakdown of allocation of the fee suggests a very low amount of income generated from the discounted fees for the actual work of the Landlord Licensing Department. We trust that this is based on detailed cost analysis but are concerned that the figures are too low to enable the department to provide the service required.
11. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the proposed conditions around tenancy management?
Tend to agree
We are extremely concerned about the impact that the ASB conditions may have on the accommodation of tenants who have previous accusations of ASB, whether founded or otherwise, on accessing accommodation in the city. There are already grave difficulties in accessing RSL properties in Liverpool where there has been a history of ASB. This fairly onerous burden on the landlord may dissuade them from offering tenancies to anyone they believe to have the potential to be involved in ASB. This could increase landlords feeling of apprehension of renting to those in receipt of welfare benefits and may have similar chilling impacts upon marginalised groups as the tool of the hostile environment’s “Right to Rent” laws have had upon migrants in the UK (where research found that 44% of landlords reported they are less likely to consider renting to individuals without a British passport.) However we do recognise the importance of residents feeling safe in their own home and the role that landlords can have in ensuring that ASB does not destroy the lives of those in the community.
12. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the proposed conditions around property management and safety?
Tend to agree
13. Are there any other things you think the Council should consider to help improve the quality and management of privately rented properties in Liverpool? Are there any other comments that you would like to make about the licensing proposals?
The citywide scheme was effective when utilised by renters however we do believe that there was a lack of knowledge of the scheme within the community which resulted in many people being unaware of the protections under the scheme and leaving property conditions unaddressed and under reported. The removal of the scheme is extremely damaging to renters and benefits landlords who do not agree with additional regulations.
As we have detailed above we continue to believe that LIverpool’s renters should all be protected equally. We are extremely keen to hear how the Council intends to protect those exclude from the scheme and how they intend to prevent a two-tier system or postcode lottery for tenant right and PRS conditions. Tenants everywhere should have the same protection, and regulation should apply in all areas.
We believe if a selective scheme is introduced the Council must work hard to ensure tht those excluded believe they will also be protected and are not seen by their own Council as second class citizens. One member expressed the serious concerns we have:
It’s disgraceful that tenants in those areas of the city will not be protected. How can it be fair that some parts are protected and not others? Time and time again landlords take advantage of tenants and do not protect their best interests; in those parts of the city without protection it is almost guaranteed that landlords will take advantage of that and leave tenants living in poor quality and dangerous housing.
A recurring theme in our member responses is a call for extensive and immediate building of Council properties which are not “affordable” rents but are at true social rent. The introductions of available alternative accommodation would truly redress the imbalance of power between landlords and tenants and would drive up the standards of remaining PRS properties. On this issue one member stated “Large areas of green space (I would regard as public assets), sold off to private developers in areas like the Baltic Triangle, where there is desperate need for social housing in the community.”
One of the most important protections offered by the scheme is the inability of the unlicensed landlords to use the section 21 procedure to evict their tenants whilst the property remains unlicensed. That thiks protections will apply only to some renters in the city seems extremely unjust and our members made the following comments on this loss of protectin:
- Across the city, private landlords are able to get away with putting their tenants in unsafe, unhealthy and precarious living conditions. Renters are often afraid to report substandard living conditions as they fear they will be evicted through a Section 21 order.
- As a Housing solicitor I am confronted daily with people who are facing eviction from private rented property using s.21. I see many tenants being harassed by landlords attempting to evict them illegally. The LLS provided some protection.
- As a private renter myself I am affected by the increasing rents, I have been evicted under s.21 on a number of occasions and have had to move around throughout my kids' childhoods. There is an extreme lack of stability that makes life difficult.
- Tenants are being evicted in favour of students who are viewed as more profitable due to multiple occupancy
We will end with a answer given in response to our survey which sums up Acorn Liverpool’s stance on the Landlord Licensing Scheme:
When there is a clear power imbalance between tenant and landlord and in a world where the landlord can exploit the tenant for their own financial gain, landlords must be regulated. Landlords are taking advantage of people who are from low income families and using their need to rent to treat them poorly and have them living in completely unfit conditions. This landlord licensing scheme is one of the last measures we have in place to prevent housing in Liverpool being completely taken over by the rich who have no one in mind but themselves.
Liverpool City Council is legally obliged to offer to send you a copy of the Licensing Designation(s) before any licensing scheme is introduced. These are supporting documents that define various things including the area where licensing will be required, as well as detailing the commencement and duration of the designation(s).
If you would like to receive a copy of the Licensing Designation(s) please answer 'yes' and provide your name with either an email or postal address below.
Yes - Acorn Liverpool - [email protected]