Liverpool landlord licensing ruled in breach of Data Protection Act

Liverpool landlord licensing ruled in breach of Data Protection Act

8:40 AM, 16th May 2016, About 8 years ago 66

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Data protection actI would like to preface this piece by saying that I, like the majority of decent landlords I know would fully support true Selective landlord licensing in Liverpool. It is the politically motivated ‘blanket’ licensing, which after 13 months has not improved the situation of a single tenant in Liverpool, that we object to.

In a letter dated 10th May 2016 the Information Commissioner has ruled that by forcing landlords to sign the blanket authorisation below in order for their Landlord Licence applications to be processed, Liverpool City Council is in breach of the Data Protection Act.

‘2.6 I as the proposed licence holder, hereby authorise any statutory body holding information about me, which falls within the categories above, to provide this information on request by Liverpool City Council.’

This is all down to the work and persistence of one Liverpool landlord who was interviewed on BBC Radio Merseyside on Wednesday (11th May), where the presenter also revealed that after 13 months work Liverpool City Council has issued just 1,200 licences out of approximately 35,000 applications.

Where were the landlord associations when all this was going on? The RLA and NLA that charge landlords £80 per year to represent them. With all the resources available to these bodies why was it left to one landlord to take on the Council? The RLA even became a co-regulator with Liverpool City Council to assist in the implementation of the scheme, no doubt creating a nice new revenue stream. A scheme now ruled to be in breach of the third protocol of the Data Protection Act. What has the RLA got to say about that? Are they even aware?

This ruling represents a huge victory for landlords, not only in Liverpool, but in all areas where blanket licensing has been introduced and we would encourage all landlords to check their applications to see if other authorities may also be in breach of the Act.

We believe Liverpool City Council should now write to every landlord who has applied for a licence informing them of the breach and offering compensation. Liverpool must revoke all the licences issued so far, refund all application and licence fees paid to date and start the licensing process from scratch, providing new application forms to all applicants.

If you are in the process of applying for a licence, please email the Council and request a full explanation of how this has occurred, requesting a full refund and new application forms.

Many thanks to the one Landlord who took on the mantel that should have been worn by the NLA and RLA.

Another very good case for Property118 to form a truly representative Landlord Association.


UPDATE – 19/05/2016

Copy of article published by Larry Sweeney, the landlord referred to in the above article

Liverpool LandlordsThe Information Commissioner has ruled that by forcing landlords to sign a blanket authorisation in order for their Landlord Licence applications to be processed, Liverpool City Council is in breach of the Data Protection Act. I am the landlord who single handedly, without any paid legal advice, managed to obtain this ruling.

So what does it mean?

To explain what we can do now, with a view to getting this licensing scheme scrapped altogether, I am hosting an emergency meeting and inviting all Liverpool Landlords to attend on at 7PM on Thursday 26th May 2016.

The venue is the Conservative Club, Birkdale Village Southport.

The license and its conditions could quite easily result in a criminal prosecution for any landlord operating in Liverpool. With the help of Property118 and its members I now want to take the fight to Liverpool Council, which itself has has been prosecuted in the magistrates court for a criminal offence in 2006/2007.

Further information, help and advise will be available for all landlords who attend.

There is no cost and the Council will not be invited.

To book your place please complete the form below. I will receive a copy of your contact details.

Oops! We could not locate your form.

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Neil Patterson

8:44 AM, 16th May 2016, About 8 years ago

Excellent advice for all Liverpool Landlords Paul, and it is worth landlords looking into the wording of Selective Licence applications of all councils for similar wording.

Now there is a precedent it can be reported straight to the ICO.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

9:12 AM, 16th May 2016, About 8 years ago

This is indeed fantastic new Paul and I hope this article is shared far and wide amongst the landlord community.

I will certainly be sharing it on the HMO Facebook groups I belong to as well as other landlord groups and forums.

Thank you also for your supportive comments in regards to Property118 forming a landlords association focussed on providing legal action. As you rightly say, there is strength in numbers.

Romain Garcin

10:12 AM, 16th May 2016, About 8 years ago

Great news.

Landlords should be against all licensing schemes. These do nothing but add costs and red tape.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

10:29 AM, 16th May 2016, About 8 years ago

I wonder whether all licensing schemes have a similar clause?

I also wonder whether licensing schemes which do have such a clause, and are therefore illegal, could result in grounds for appeal to any fines that have been imposed on landlords as a breach of rules including failure to register?

This could keep lawyers busy! :

All the more reason for us to launch Property118 Landlords Association 😀

NW Landlord

11:03 AM, 16th May 2016, About 8 years ago

It's just a money making exercise 38k x 500 19m for the council and they still can't do it properly

I think the best idea is the 118 organisation that I believe will properly speak on our behalf as the current organisations are not fit for purpose in my eyes

Rob Crawford

11:36 AM, 16th May 2016, About 8 years ago

Please can someone advise on what grounds the 2.6 statement was unacceptable to ICO? It seems to me that LCC are asking permission from the landlord to obtain information from those who may hold information about that landlord. The only thing that I can see that may concern ICO is that it is not specific in detailing who would be asked for the information (it's a very broad all encompassing statement) also it does not detail how the information would be used. Are these the grounds objected to??


12:00 PM, 16th May 2016, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Romain Garcin" at "16/05/2016 - 10:12":

In addition they do not solve the perceived problem; Thanet are introducing a second period of licensing (considered by Adrian Thompson of the Guild of Residential Landlords, to be illegal in all circumstances) as the initial five year scheme did not solve the problem.

12:57 PM, 16th May 2016, About 8 years ago

Thank you all for your interest and comments so far.

To answer the question from Rob I'll have to paraphrase the letter from the ICO as I only have a pdf copy. After the 2.6 reference the letter goes on to say:

'.......This therefore implies that the Application will not be processed unless the applicant signs the relevant form......The council state that only in exceptional circumstances do they consider a DBS check to be relevant...................It would therefore appear that the council is asking for information which is not necessary for most applicants and would therefore be excessive...........It is on this basis that we believe the council has breached the DPA as they are asking for information on the off chance that they may need to make a check.'

The ICO letter goes on to say that the council's application form is 'confusing' and that the assessment is made under section 42 of the DPA.

So far my colleague who initiated this process has had no response from either Liverpool City Council nor a specific councillor with whom he has been in correspondence regarding this matter. Neither the RLA nor the NLA appear to have commented so far.

We would love to get this into the national press. My colleague would be happy to talk to any media organisation if anyone has any contacts.

Thanks, Paul

Richard Brown

13:07 PM, 16th May 2016, About 8 years ago

Can they not simply vary this particular clause / requirement like the major financial institutions do wth their T&Cs say?

Gary Dully

14:21 PM, 16th May 2016, About 8 years ago

This council have gotten to big for their boots.

They are now into racketeering, there is no other word for it.

We now have to give our roll numbers and mortgage providers details for ANY license application and we don't know what is the reasoning for it.

I don't want to give this information and I have no choice in the matter.

If I asked any councillor or tenant their financial details and permission to talk about their affairs before dealing with them, there would be more than a little resistance.

Also the council have forced us to pay a massive fee for diddly squat of a benefit, in fact I can't think of any except to invoke fear into the law abiders and no fear into the wayward landlords whatsoever.

So what now?

The RLA have got into bed with a racket that Al Capone would be proud of.

Pay up or you can't trade, but if you pay my brothers at RLA , we will leave you alone and you won't have to pay as much.

Leave the RLA and they will squeel on you and we will come for our money that you still owe us.

It's a bloody disgrace.

Well done that single landlord who has taken them on.

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