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 6 years ago 61

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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.


by Mandy Thomson

15:22 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Dully" at "16/05/2016 - 14:21":

Hear, hear. Landlord licensing has always reminded me of when I was once sitting in a cafe in Palermo, and the owner was anxiously sitting in the corner doing his accounts before handing that and a sum of money over to another man in biking leathers....

My thought at the time was how awful it must be for local businesses to be forced to hand over a share of their profits and kowtow to the mafia's protection racket.

I'm now just waiting for the "inspections" to start on my properties, and after reading the comments on this thread over on Property Investment Project I'm not simply taking it in my stride, even though my properties are very well maintained.

by Mandy Thomson

15:36 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "17/05/2016 - 15:22":

P.S. regarding the thread on Property Investment Project, see the comments in particular about the inspector telling the landlord she must fill a UPVC window with putty; the advice to another landlord that he had created an HMO because his tenant regularly had his nephew to stay, and yet another order to a landlord to sort out mould that the tenant freely admitted causing...

The only positive I can say about this is that it's good to see these council licensing teams are doing their bit by giving their local unemployed youth the chance of a job, except it would be even better if they bothered to train them properly first...

by Luke P

15:37 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "17/05/2016 - 15:22":

On the back of your comment Mandy (and to save me starting a separate article), whilst we currently don't have licensing the LA are keen to bring it in.

I have had an increasing number of HHSRS inspections recently, followed by a wish list of 'repairs'. Locally, a number of landlords (including myself) undertook the HHSRS course so that we understood what was involved and to be better informed. The chap from the LA that's conducting these inspections is a complete fool who hasn't a clue what he's looking for or how to conduct the survey but is rather using what he deems to be common sense to produce his list of 'hazards'.

Finally becoming tired of these inspections, I have asked for the full HHSRS report (including the accompanying calculations as to how each hazard was reached) as well as a copy of his qualifications.

So far I have had to ask the chap in question, his boss and his boss' boss. Despite being nothing more than a firm lettered request, the boss' boss has chosen to deal with this request as a formal complaint. Great, you might think. No...this is only being done as it buys more time with their standard 'we will reply to your complaint within 14 working days' letter.

They haven't got a clue. The chap isn't qualified. They aren't surveying the properties correctly. No calculations are being produced.

It's a complete farce and I imagine that somewhere along the line they are using 'evidence' found during these inspections to justify licensing sometime in the future!

by Larry Sweeney

15:53 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rob Crawford" at "16/05/2016 - 11:36":

I am the landlord that obtained the ICO Ruling. Liverpool were asking for too much information in essence. Organisations should only seek the minimum they require not what they may need in the future. I obtained 3 rulings against Liverpool not one, but the others related to my personal data. Councils believe just because they have got away with the fraud of pretending an area is one of low demand, as the entire city of Liverpool is supposed to be if one believed these idiots, that they are home and dry. NOT SO .Let us tackle them at every point .

by Maria O'Neill

16:00 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "larry sweeney" at "17/05/2016 - 15:53":

Hi Larry,

We completed the initial application form well over a year ago - then a deafening silence until a few weeks ago asking us for more info and money. We have so far ignored them. Do we have a valid reason to challenge them based on that initial application form?

by Larry Sweeney

16:00 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Maria O'Neill" at "16/05/2016 - 20:56":

The criteria in essence is that the council breached the DPA. Nominal damages of about £750 should be paid. If we all went after Liverpool that would teach them to show some respect rather than bullying and threatening landlords.

by Mandy Thomson

16:01 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Luke P" at "17/05/2016 - 15:37":

Really interesting comment, Luke. The way these town halls are running their rackets - sorry - SCHEMES is farcical, except it's not funny if you happen to be on the receiving end of one of these "recommendations", non compliance of which has the potential to end your livelihood.

Could you tell me who you did your HSSR course with? I studied it as part of my landlord accreditation with the NLA, but it's quite a complex piece of legislation as you could theoretically have two identical properties, with exactly the same issues, but while it might be deemed a high category hazard in the first property, it won't be in the next, because the first property has a vulnerable tenant and the second does not.

by Luke P

16:06 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "17/05/2016 - 16:01":

Hi Mandy,

We (The Humber Landlords' Association) used Paul Fitzgerald of the National HMO Network. His profile page states, 'I have been qualified for over 30 years as an Environmental Health Officer, with 15 working as a consultant, specialising in private sector housing.

I am a recognised trainer delivering courses for the CIEH on HHSRS assessment and enforcement and HMO practical inspections. I also deliver training courses to private landlords for Tigrent Training UK on HHSRS and HMOs.

Since working at Oxford I have managed the HMO and Private Sector Safety Teams, Oxford having city wide additional licensing for HMOs and taken numerous prosecutions for failure to license and management regulation contraventions.
I have acted as an expert witness for both local authorities and private landlords at residential property tribunals."

He is visiting us again on 08th June to deliver a HMO course. Forewarned is forearmed and all that...!

by NW Landlord

16:25 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

This is just the council thinking they had an opportunity to extort easy money and that setting it up would be easy (unless u are a council that is this) it will not happen as they couldn't run a bath and will eventually get scrapped. If I can get £1 compensation from them I would as they are nothing short of disgraceful and should walk round smoking cigars wearing black suits just like billing you for EMPTY houses and passing you onto debt collectors

by Gary Dully

21:17 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Well here is TODAY's UPDATE!
Liverpool Council are still insisting that landlords register their properties & pay for license applications.

I have asked that one of my letting agents, (Venmores), clarify the position.

This is their response.....
Dear Mr Dully
We spoke with the council yesterday on this and they told us we have to proceed as normal. I called them again today and they said the same.
I am awaiting correspondence from the Head of Licensing as he is our main contact. If anything changes we will let you know.

Kind Regards

(End of email)

Would someone like to comment on what we are supposed to do now?

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