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Success! Government rejects renewal of Liverpool city-wide licensing scheme

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

Plans to renew a city-wide selective licensing scheme in Liverpool have been rejected by the Government following campaigning by the RLA.

Liverpool City Council had proposed to renew its city-wide selective licensing scheme for another five years, with the current scheme due to end on 31st March 2020.

A consultation on the plans was launched by the council last year. In its consultation response, the RLA opposed plans to renew the city-wide licensing scheme for several reasons (outlined below) including that FOI evidence shows city-wide licensing is not required in Liverpool because the need for licensing is not evidenced in some areas of the city.

Government rejects plans to renew the scheme

This week, the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick rejected an application to keep the citywide Landlord Licensing scheme going for another five years.

The council based the designation of selective licensing on low demand-one of the five criteria to introduce licensing.

According to Liverpool City Councils website the Liverpool Express, the Government rejected the licensing scheme because the application “did not demonstrate robust evidence to support the existence of low housing demand across the whole city.”

The Council is set to ask the government for more information about how the decision was reached. and the Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson is writing to the Government about the decision.

The RLA’s consultation response

In the RLA’s consultation response to the plans, the association opposed the renewal of the city-wide licensing scheme, because:

  • Most ‘breaches’ have been for administrative errors In March, the RLA submitted a Freedom of Information request to Liverpool City Council, requesting a breakdown of the breaches of licence conditions and hazards. The research found most ‘breaches’ identified are administrative rather than physical breaches, such as a landlord failing to have a copy of the tenancy information licence and failing to have copies of the tenancy information pack.
  • Evidence shows city-wide licensing is not required in Liverpool The Council’s Freedom of Information response also shows that several wards in Liverpool have much lower figures when it comes to Category 1 hazards. Allerton, Central, Croxteth, Mossley Hill and Riverside have been found to have proportionally lower figures, compared to other wards covered by the licensing scheme. Therefore, the need for licensing is not evidenced in these areas, and the council should focus its resources on areas it has already identified.
  • A licence will cost £100 more than it currently does The cost of a licence under the new scheme will be £100 more than the current fee. Liverpool City Council has not justified why this is the case.
  • Financial burden for landlords Our research has already shown some landlords are planning to increase rents to mitigate the negative impact of legislative changes including the removal of mortgage interest relief, the removal of the wear and tear allowance and the upcoming Tenant Fees Act.  Renewing the licensing scheme will add another financial burden.

Responding to the Government’s decision to reject the renewal of the city wide scheme, RLA policy manager John Stewart said:

“Liverpool’s application for a second new city-wide application was doomed to failure.  Unlike their initial scheme, the renewal required permission from the Secretary of State, and robust evidence to back the application.

“The RLA made it clear that the council’s evidence failed to justify a city-wide scheme on the basis of low demand.  The council’s own statistics showed increasing house prices and lower void periods across many areas of the city.

“In addition, the operation of the current selective licensing scheme left much to be desired, with long waits for licences and a focus on minor, often administrative breaches, rather than tackling the worst property management and conditions.

“A much more focussed approach is required, and we welcome the rejection of the city wide scheme.”

You can read the RLA’s full response to this consultation here.

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.


  • Well done you.
    This scheme has been a nonsense from the start, a piece of pure socialist box ticking dogma.
    Thank god we have a government at last who are listening to the concerns of people on the ground.

  • Well done. The licensing scheme doesn’t work. They inspected properties which were Licensed and where they could contact the landlord. It was a case of policing the law abiding and ignoring the illegal.

    When I made complaints about really serious problems at slum flats in Liverpool 7 with photographic evidence of iron bars over all the windows and no proper fire escape, nothing was done. Still hasn’t!

  • Well done RLA, for helping stop this blatant money-making scheme by Liverpool Council (at the expense of landlords, and ultimately tenants) in it’s tracks.

    Maybe you could put Borough of Camden next on your agenda. Camden has hijacked the licensing as a tool to whip landlords of the private sector with demands that are disliked by residents, often less safe than prior, disruptive and expensive to implement ……………. which are all reasons why Camden do not generally install such in their own HMOs. E.g. private landlord must install two parallel mains operated fire alarm system, great A and grade D when local authority premises have neither!

  • Well done this was a ridiculous scheme that increased rent for tenants and put landlords off investing and regenerating property. Thank God this has been scrapped.

  • Well done as previously stated good landlords were being penalised because they registered. Would it be possible to find out how much Liverpool council took in fees and how much it cost to administer ?

    • According to figures we obtained from the council the total income received from licence fees from start of scheme to 31st March 2019 was £13,252,999 and the total expenditure from start of scheme to 31st March 2019: £9,800,937

      • So if the council made a £3.5 M profit, how can the increase in fees be justified?

        Moreover, Could the RLA start a campaign for the Coventry licencing scheme.

        As a huge market and not exclusively, is this one more stick to beat the students into the hotel-like accommodation that has sprung up accross the city? So many students wish to have the experience of living in a house with their friends and the new scheme brings so many more properties into the licensing bracket. Clearly, any modifications plus the cost of the licence fee will be passed on to the tenants!

        If this was purely about standards I would have no issue, however, looking at the bigger picture, there is much more too it.

  • crazy scheme designed as a money grabber, cost would of only been given to tenants anyway as an incidental landlord like myself had to rent out to cover mortgage and property management fees plus all the other costs involved, joe anderson should be ashamed of himself

  • what happens if I applied for a license in January 2020, and now I have to pay the full £412 for a license for just two months! can anyone help with this?

    • Hi Shivani,
      I’m in the same situation (I was unaware of this ridiculous scheme). I applied late feb 2020 and they still proceeded taking money. By the time the license would have been granted, there would have only been 9 days left.
      I’ve obviously complaint but haven’t got anywhere as yet. Have you managed to get a refund and if so can you share how?
      Thanks in advance!

  • The liverpool licencing didn’t have any benefits to tenants, only increased the rents for them and made more people homeless.

    • Hi Jane, as an association we aim to respond to all local authority licensing consultations. I will ask our policy team about this. Best, Victoria

  • Action would be good to see in Nottingham which echoes all the comments above.
    It has taken over a year for the licence to come through. That is a provisional licence for a fully renovated 1950’s property which to this day has not been inspected. They are now asking for the second part of the fee. The total fee for this property will be £770. If you applied after April 2019 the fee is £890. I haven’t yet found a scheme as expensive as this so I can only assume it’s to make money out of good landlords to pay for the bad landlords. That is not right and not fair.
    I have really good tenants and wanted to keep them so I didn’t want to increase the rent but unfortunately I have to now increase the rent by £25 per month to cover the next fee in 4 years time. I have explained to them why I have had to do this and directed them to the council’s website and they are far from happy with Nottingham City Council. I also believe other legislation will increase the rent further.

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