Liverpool Council lose at Property Tribunal

by Larry Sweeney

11:07 AM, 26th June 2017
About A year ago

Liverpool Council lose at Property Tribunal

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Liverpool Council lose at Property Tribunal

SWEENEY V LIVERPOOL CITY COUNCIL. FIRST TIER TRIBUNAL MANCHESTER CASE REF MAN/OOBY/HML/2016/0005.

The tribunal has released its decision dated 22/6/2017. There were a number of arguments advanced in the above case, and while Liverpool technically could appeal , the tribunal has ruled that the Council must amend all its landlord licences. The Local authority expended huge resources arguing the point including employing senior Counsel from a top London chamber.

Had the Council listened to me initially, Tax payers money could have been saved, and we would not have had to get independent determination.

The Liverpool condition stated that ” any letters relating to anti- social behaviour sent or received by the licence holder must be retained by the licence holder and made available to the authority within 7 days on demand”

I argued that this was totally unreasonable, and where a landlord received information in confidence, it would not be correct to divulge this information to the Council. Furthermore I was not happy with Council procedures for protecting Witnesses as they fall short of Procedures employed by Police forces.

The Tribunal concurred and all Licences issued by Liverpool must now be amended and the following clause added: “the licence holder shall not thereby be required to disclose to the authority any information which the licence holder reasonably believes to have been provided to him in confidence by a third party”.

All local authorities should now review their conditions.

It should be remembered that Liverpool previously had inserted another illegal condition in their scheme which contravened the De regulation act. Liverpool city Council were also taken to task following an ICO investigation which ruled their application form for landlord licences illegal.

What an utter fiasco. Time and again the largest licensing scheme in the Country has been found wanting.

Liverpool city Council simply cannot get it right. Two and a half years in to a scheme, where licences still have not been issued and those that have been issued, must again be amended.

A tale of greed and sheer incompetence.



Comments

Neil Patterson

11:09 AM, 26th June 2017
About A year ago

Well done keeping up the fight Larry even against some opinion from our own industry!

Guy Bradley

12:13 PM, 26th June 2017
About A year ago

Larry, congratulations in bringing this case and having your arguments upheld. Liverpool City Council look increasingly incompetent, poorly-advised and arrogant in their handling of this revenue-generating exercise. Shame on them and well done again.

Larry Sweeney

12:14 PM, 26th June 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "26/06/2017 - 11:09":

Thanks Neil, as usual Property 118 the only real voice of Landlords are first to report this once again.

Larry Sweeney

12:24 PM, 26th June 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Guy Bradley" at "26/06/2017 - 12:13":

Thanks Guy,
The worst of this fiasco, is that No tenants have benefited from the Council revenue raising scam. Their only prosecutions have been against landlords who failed to sign up to their rubbish scheme. Had they introduced a scheme which was genuinely selective, and targeted a deprived area in order to improve Properties in that area, All responsible landlords would have supported it. Instead they saw a cash cow. Why did Liverpool co regulation partners not take them to task for their flawed conditions??/

Maria O'Neill

13:24 PM, 26th June 2017
About A year ago

I received a rather intimidating and threatening letter (which included Police caution quote) last week, despite the fact that Stage 1 of the process had been done and I was waiting for go ahead to Stage 2. I have now done Stage 2 and paid, literally within the past 48 hours. I have now emailed the 'go to' person in the Council to ask for confirmation that new licences will be fully compliant with the Court ruling. Also, should all re-issued licences and new licences run for the full 5 years form issue and not until 2020 as is inferred?

Total shambles!

Liverpool City Council

15:52 PM, 26th June 2017
About A year ago

To clarify the remarks made by Mr Laurence Sweeney, these are the facts relating to his appeal against a selective licence to his property, granted by Liverpool City Council under s79 of the Housing Act 2004:
Mr Sweeney’s appeal was based on:
1. Ground 1: The licence is invalid because the copy of the proposed licence which preceded it was flawed in that it failed to include information as required by the Housing Act 2004.
2. Ground 2: The City Council’s licence fee structure is flawed and illegal.
3. Ground 3: The City Council failed to issue the licence within a reasonable time following the application and was thus in breach of the Housing Act 2004.
4. Ground 4: Condition 9(c) of the City Council’s standard selective licence conditions breaches Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
5. Ground 5: Standard licence condition 4(3)(a) is illegal and unworkable.

Following a case management hearing on the 7th March 2017, the Tribunal struck out Grounds 1-3 as there was no reasonable prospect of success and/or the Tribunal did not have jurisdiction to deal with the matters.

In relation to Ground 4, a Tribunal on 22 June 2017 accepted the City Council’s argument that this condition was reasonable and did not breach Article 8 of the ECHR. The condition therefore will remain.

In respect of Ground 5, the Tribunal did not order the removal of the condition as per Mr Sweeney’s request. It did find, however, that a balance needs to be struck between this and confidentiality to third parties. Licence condition 4(3)(a) currently reads as follows: Any letters, relating to anti-social behaviour, sent or received by the licence holder, or agent of the licence holder, must be kept by the licence holder. True copies of the original document should be made available to the Authority within 7 days on demand. The Tribunal has ordered that the City Council vary the licence condition to add the following onto the end of the licence condition (but the licence holder shall not thereby be required to disclose to the Authority, any information which the licence holder reasonably believes to have been provided in confidence to him).
The City Council accept the Tribunal decision and will vary existing licence conditions accordingly. New licences will be issued with the varied licence condition.

Mr Sweeney also made an application for costs against the City Council, however this was refused by the Tribunal who stated: ‘The conclusions of the Tribunal to not bear out Mr Sweeney’s criticisms of the Council’s conduct in these proceedings and we find that there are no grounds on which an order for costs against the Council could (or should) be made. Although these proceedings have resulted in a variation of one term of the licence, this arises from a relatively minor aspect of the appeal: Mr Sweeney’s principle grounds of appeal have been unsuccessful.’

Gunga Din

18:37 PM, 26th June 2017
About A year ago

Liverpool City Council, is it true that no tenants have benefited from the licensing scheme, and that the Council's only prosecutions have been against landlords who failed to sign up to the scheme? Can you offer any evidence that the stated aims and objectives of the scheme are being achieved?

Many Thanks - Gunga Din

Larry Sweeney

19:13 PM, 26th June 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Liverpool City Council" at "26/06/2017 - 15:52":

RESPONSE TO LIVERPOOL.
Firstly let me preface this by stating that I am delighted that the Council have engaged with us on Property 118 , a serious forum. Welcome LCC.
As regards their spin , I'm afraid it does not wash. If the Council had their finger on the pulse, they would be aware that I previously addressed the dismissal of grounds 1-3 by the tribunal. Unlike the Zealot Council I accepted and admitted that these grounds were ruled against. I did not enter in to a lengthy spin argument to justify an adverse ruling.
Moving on, the ECHR argument was indeed ruled against, but it is foolish and arrogant of this authority to comment on this ground within the appeal period. For the record I probably will not appeal this ground despite the ruling ,simply because I cannot be bothered. Moving on to the costs argument, again when one wins and has an adjudication in their favour it is normal to be awarded costs. In this case Landlords should note that these Councils can be hauled before the RPT for £100, Unlike the arrogant Council I believe the winner should receive costs but ,For Landlords all over the Country, I will live with the no costs award. No big deal.
On this subject and to save us submitting an FOI request, perhaps the Council will disclose here in an open and transparent manner the total cost of their Tribunal argument. We await this in order that the Tax payer can establish how much cash was squandered by the council.

Finally with respect to the ruling, It is not in dispute. The Tribunal ordered that all new licences must contain the amended clause and all existing licences must be amended forthwith. Exactly as I stated in my Offering. It is interesting to see the lengths this Council will go to, and indeed stoop to in order to put a positive spin on an unmitigated disaster.
I have another question for LCC. Apart from giving us an answer on the cost to the tax payer for this sham, will they also publish in Local and National papers that their entire Licence issue to date must now be amended.??
Finally another question for Good Old Liverpool City Council, How many licences must now be amended?
In summary a miserable effort at spinning what is clearly a Tribunal defeat. How can the fact that all licences must be amended to comply with the law, and all new licences be drafted differently be spun as a victory. yes I did not win all of my arguments but I won this one.
If the Council could also confirm that They previously removed another illegal clause, and confirm that they amended their dodgy illegal forms as per My ICO ruling, That would also add clarity.
Once again Liverpool City Council, Welcome to Our forum and I would urge other Local authorities around the Country to come on and state their case . Engagement surely is beneficial to all.

Jenniefer Mulligan

21:17 PM, 26th June 2017
About A year ago

Welcome to the forum LCC, you state that Mr Sweeney failed in his appeal, however the tribunal found in his favour. It may be a single point. Yet this point will cause you to re-issue all of the licenses that you have issued so far. (Although that isn't as much as it should be, seeing as you are behind in your issuing).
As another member has already asked Please could you clarify how many tenants have had their housing enhanced from your selective licensing? how many slum landlords have you actually prosecuted in regards to poor housing? Also how can you blatantly lie about how you decided on"striking a balance" regarding protecting information passed from a confidential source regarding behaviour of a tenant. When you state in your current license conditions that any information passed from or to a landlord pertaining to anti social behaviour, should be kept and handed over to the council on demand within 7 days.. I find it very hard to be convinced that without Mr Sweeney pointing this out you would have continued to put neighbours of anti social tenants at risk!! You LCC are extremely good at pointing the finger at landlords yet fail miserably to help the people you state need helping.. The desperate tenants that are being kept in poor housing by slum lords. You know -the ones you stated would be protected by your selective licensing!!!

Chris Daniel

23:22 PM, 26th June 2017
About A year ago

Below submitted to Liverpool City Council, - ( will post the reply.- when received )

Freedom of Information Request.
Please tell me for each of the years, 2014, 2015 and 2016 ;
How many complaints were received by Liverpool City Council ( either directly or via another person / body ) about a dwelling in the Private rented sector.
Also, the number of inspections and type of actions that resulted from those complaints.
Thank you.

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