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 Larry Sweeney

21:43 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

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

I am trying to set up an emergency Meeting for Liverpool landlords next week. I will outline my strategy then. In the meantime ignore this council, They are gangsters with no regard for the law. Google their criminal prosecution for another breach 2006/2007.

by NW Landlord

21:46 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

I wouldn't give them the steam of my pxxs ! I have a few applications with them and read between the lines long before this thread a pure opportunity for them to extort money and they couldn't even set that up properly. Ignore them and let's organise something to put them truly in their place I'd rather pay Tony soprano to watch over my houses but he's no longer with us RIP

by Simon Topple

21:47 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

I (along with a number of other established letting agencies, landlords and bodies such as the North West Property Owners Association) was on the landlords advisory panel set up by the council to get input from the PRS in setting up the scheme.

It was clear early on there would be issues. A major one was the scheme was brought in under false pretenses and got in by the skin of its teeth.

The false pretenses were the only grounds from bringing a scheme in was to tackle low demand and anti-social behaviour. They even tried to prove low demand from the student sector (this is subject to over-supply but there is huge demand still for the right property - I am currently looking at an inbox of enquiries from this evening). If anything it is the local authorities lax approach to planning and not considering the impact on the commercial viability of the city and the UDP in granting planning that has contributed to this.

The skin of its teeth is the change that all blanket licensing schemes must get Secretary of State approval. This ruling was designed to prevent exactly what Liverpool Council was doing - bringing in a wide area scheme to fix a very localised issue.

As a result we have the ludicrous situation that a property rented out for multiple thousands per month in Calderstones needs a license, to tackle anti social problems and low demand that simply isn't an issue (and might as well be a different city).

On a final note - during one of the consultation meetings hastily set up by the council, the rep from the NLA asked a question - to paraphrase, "how will you measure success in five years to determine if the scheme has worked, and therefore can be closed".

The answer indicated that this was not an option and they were not looking to monitor the effectiveness (at tackling ASB and low demand) - once the scheme was in place, it was there permanently. This is in direct contrast to Manchester Council, who admitted very quickly that their scheme did not work and closed it down.

Liverpool should do the same - the scheme is not needed, not wanted, is a drain on the local PRS and is not helping to drive up standards. They are ill equipped to deal with this level of applications and licensing, and have only now (after 9 years) gotten HMO licensing under control.

by Larry Sweeney

21:48 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "maurice1 dev" at "17/05/2016 - 14:40":

Maurice, their application form is a joke. It is not a serious legal document yet they seek to prosecute us on the basis of this garbage. You are absolutely correct to complete the paper version. I am trying to set up an emergency landlord meeting next week and hopefully we can follow on with a property 118 Landlords association. Mark is progressing this. I will outline strategy at the meeting .

by Larry Sweeney

21:52 PM, 17th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Maria O'Neill" at "17/05/2016 - 16:00":

Yes maria,
their application form which you signed is rubbish as you were forced to sign to agree police checks . Furthermore the illegal form says you agree to their conditions .Do as I did and request all forms back and new application forms which conform with the law. Since the fiasco is their fault demand the forms are posted to you immediately . I will run through it with you at the meeting when we have a time and date.

by Tony McVey

11:20 AM, 18th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Congratulations to the landlord who was responsible for this. I should
point out that there have been several other aspects of the licensing
application which our local association, the North West Property
Owners Association, has managed to nip in the bud during the
lengthy discussion and consultation period which preceded the
implementation of licensing. We held several public meetings and did
our level best to engage all Liverpool landlords in attempting to oppose it. The RLA was very supportive in all this.

by Mark Alexander

21:09 PM, 18th May 2016, About 6 years ago

This article has gone viral in Facebook and prompted many other discussions about landlord licensing, not only in Liverpool but in many other areas of the U.K.

It's not often that I would link to another forum who's owner takes an opposing view but I think it is relevant for the views and investigations completed by Vanessa Warwick of Property Tribes to be shared and more so the response from Adam Hosker. Please see

by Larry Sweeney

23:00 PM, 18th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "18/05/2016 - 21:09":

For The avoidance of doubt and to address the misleading property tribes article I will quote directly from the ruling issued to me 10th May from the information commissioner which should clear up any doubts .
"it would appear that the council is asking for information which is not necessary to most of its applicants and would therefore be excessive. Organisations should NOT ask for permission to contact third parties on the off chance that they may have to, and if they are going to seek express consent ,before doing so anyway, it is confusing to put it on their application form as I suggests by signing it the applicant is already giving their consent.
IT IS ON THIS BASIS THAT WE BELIEVE THE COUNCIL HAS BREAHED THE DPA as they are asking for information on the off chance that they may need it to make a check. We have written to the council to inform them that we believe that they have breached the DPA"
End of quote. If Liverpool believe the findings are incorrect they may appeal. No Sign of any appeal?
No Appeal because Liverpool know such an appeal would not only fail but draw attention to the other two breaches which the DPA ruled on this week. That Is the story they are the facts. Liverpool right up to one day prior to the findings actually wrote to me dismissing my complaint and quoting their reply to the DPA which in effect was nonsense. As regards the legality of their forms .It is quite simple. They should not have forced landlords to sign these, as per the DPA. The form has no legal standing ,Landlords were bullied into signing by the threat of criminal prosecution. The same signature consented to the license conditions. The form is worthless and Liverpool have no agreement to their license conditions as Landlords should not have been forced and threatened to sign the form which the ICO has stated breaches the DPA.

by Mark Alexander

23:13 PM, 18th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "larry sweeney" at "18/05/2016 - 23:00":

Thank you for sharing this Larry and thank you also for your telephone call during which you confided in me some of the other legislative breaches that Liverpool have committed which you are yet to peruse.

I will leave it up to you as to whether you share the details of these other legislative breaches at your open meeting. Rest assured, until you tell me otherwise my lips are sealed on this matter.

All the best


by Larry Sweeney

23:29 PM, 18th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "18/05/2016 - 23:13":

Thank You Mark.
It would appear the Liverpool Landlord licensing are trying to suggest that the ruling did not excoriate Liverpool.
Again for the avoidance of doubt the ICO STATED THAT THEY BELIEVE LIVERPOOL BREACHED THE DPA. I will in due course provide further information about LCC which will demonstrate that they are not a fit organisation to either deal legally with data or implement licensing.
Finally for the benefit of Liverpool and their co regulators I am happy to confirm that the findings AGAINST Liverpool were issued under ICO case reference RFA0612028. I do not intend to respond to any more nonsense from those who appear to defend this disgraceful council .

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