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 Ramus Wood

15:58 PM, 20th May 2016, About 6 years ago

If you search the ICO website here:

you get this: "Your search for 'RFA0612028' returned no results."

This suggests there is no actual ruling/decision by the ICO. You can also search by date and there, again, nothing affecting Liverpool council appears. So was there in fact a RULING of breach or anything unlawful? Or is this just a letter to you saying that they agree and are giving Liverpool the chance to correct things.

I would strongly suggest anyone who thinks of "tearing up" their licence / licence application get the advice of a professional solicitor about the effect (if any) of the ICO ruling on the "lawfulness" of the Liverpool licensing scheme – because you can very easily find that you are breaching the law by not complying with / applying for the required licence and (however much you protest) unless a court agrees with your interpretation, you may find yourself paying some chunky fines and/or a criminal record…

by Larry Sweeney

18:30 PM, 20th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ramus Wood" at "20/05/2016 - 15:58":

That is an excellent point raised by Mr Wood.
To that end copies of the ruling will be made available to every landlord who attends our emergency meeting next week.
On another note Liverpool are now stating that the ICO did find them in breach of the act but it does not affect landlords.
This is simple. The form which we were forced to sign under threat of criminal prosecution broke the DPA.
The signature on the form binds landlords to Liverpool"s rubbish conditions. How can part of the form comply with the law when another part is in breach? Imagine issuing a sect 21 to evict a tenant, Counsel for the tenant requests sight of the form signed by the landlord agreeing to the license conditions and the landlord must produce Liverpool"s dodgy form already ruled illegal by the DPA. Not only are Liverpool putting landlords in line for criminal prosecution, but these idiots are putting our business at risk.
Once again to address any doubts/queries copies of the ruling will be provided to all a the meeting

by Larry Sweeney

20:08 PM, 20th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ramus Wood" at "20/05/2016 - 15:58":

Further Information will be release about the activities of Liverpool city council next week re Data Breaches.
In the meantime the NLA has released a statement in their News section confirming the data breach. Some other sites waffled about due diligence and attempted to cast doubt on this story, therefore I have highlighted the NLA news item.
Liverpool council and their Co Regulators now find themselves in an impossible position, but rather than accepting that this entire mess needs to be addressed by scrapping the scheme, they Continue to bluster and attempt to deny any wrongdoing. It is unfortunate the the RLA have aligned themselves with Liverpool, especially I the light of the actions of the council who continue to attempt to justify this nonsense. The worst part about this is that Liverpool have failed to come clean and therefore the evidence to emerge next week makes these denials nothing short of shocking.

by Mark Alexander

20:15 PM, 20th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "larry sweeney" at "20/05/2016 - 20:08":


Please post a link to the NLA article

by Romain Garcin

22:08 PM, 20th May 2016, About 6 years ago

I don't think that this breach has much impact, unfortunately.

IMHO, it doesn't change anything to the licensing scheme and existing licenses: It only means that the specific blanket permission to seek personal data is probably void and, perhaps, that licensee might be able to seek some compensation.

Still, it is rather shocking that Liverpool doesn't seem to own up to it.

by Rachel Hodge

22:21 PM, 20th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Compensation for what? What damages are there?

by Ramus Wood

9:03 AM, 23rd May 2016, About 6 years ago

This seems important to highlight: "It is important to note that the ICO does not adjudicate ... its response takes the form of assessment of the likelihood that the Council could be found in breach of the Data Protection Act. It does not constitute a judgment in the sense that court action can..."

by Tony McVey

10:01 AM, 23rd May 2016, About 6 years ago

Although the ICO decision is not a judgment, it is usually very persuasive
whenever further action is taken. I do think that some of the criticisms of the
RLA are unfair. They are trying to help landlords in a very practical way by
mitigating the financial aspects of licensing. Despite the commendable efforts
of Larry Sweeney, is it not certain that selective licensing will still go ahead
in Liverpool?

by Ramus Wood

15:59 PM, 23rd May 2016, About 6 years ago

In my view it is (would be great if it wasn't as we are just purchasing our first property in Liverpool). I won't be taking chances (though will probably leave out the offending portions of the forms just to make the point).

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