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

16:51 PM, 24th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Tony McVey" at "23/05/2016 - 10:01":

The Problem is Tony that Liverpool are sending out emails to landlord applicants stating that they were told to review their forms and not admitting that the ICO stated that they were in breach of the DPA.Furthermore the dodgy forms are the same forms landlords signed agreeing to their conditions. If the form is not compliant, it is not compliant, therefore Liverpool need to get all landlords to sign new forms agreeing to their conditions or appeal the ICO ruling. Once again this council falls short.

by Tony McVey

17:35 PM, 24th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Larry Sweeney" at "24/05/2016 - 16:51":

I do not disagree with your comments, but regrettably, they will not
do anything to stop selective licensing in Liverpool, something we tried
to do for two years. We could have done with your support then but
well done on what you have achieved.

by Larry Sweeney

18:12 PM, 24th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Thanks Again Tony for complementing me on exposing the Council.
I must however correct you. I have always fought against Landlord Licensing and spoke to a packed St Georges Hall in 2014 when Liverpool held their sham consultation. I informed everybody then that the consultation was window dressing by Liverpool who already had decided to introduce their scheme and regretfully I have been proven correct.
A press release will be on this site Friday 27th May after our meeting Thurs in Southport. We would be delighted to welcome you to the meeting which is attracting interest from all over the country.

by Paul A Brady

9:19 AM, 25th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Tony, selective licensing is not the problem - BLANKET licensing is the issue. Liverpool had a real opportunity to crack down on bad landlords, but as usual they have just gone for the easy targets - i.e. the 90%+ of decent landlords who are just ordinary people trying to make a living or provide for their retirement by providing decent ( not palaces ) homes for people to live in across Liverpool.

First we have a breach of the Data Protection Act in the licence application process and now it looks like the licence conditions contradict the De-Regulation Act - please see the related forum articles that appeared today. What is coming next? Liverpool should abandon the current scheme and bring in a programme that will really work for everyone.

by Mark Alexander

9:22 AM, 25th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Please see Larry's latest revelations. Link below ...

by Luke P

9:30 AM, 25th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Should I expect an email after completing the meeting booking form? I filled it in yesterday with a request for two places but have heard nothing...I don't want to make the journey if I can't get in 🙂

by Mark Alexander

9:42 AM, 25th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Luke P" at "25/05/2016 - 09:30":

No emails have been sent, nor are any planned at this stage.

All registrations have been noted and places are booked.

by Tony McVey

10:48 AM, 25th May 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul A Brady" at "25/05/2016 - 09:19":

Selective licensing is blanket licensing, or can be, since the Act
gave Local Authorities the power to impose licensing on the whole
of or any part of the area of their jurisdiction.
I think that the idea that Liverpool will abandon the scheme is
tremendously optimistic but we live in hope!

by Paul A Brady

19:00 PM, 31st May 2016, About 6 years ago

Thank you to all those who attended the landlord meeting at Birkdale on Thursday evening to discuss the major flaws in Liverpool's Landlord Licensing scheme, uncovered so far. Everyone who attended should now have received an email outlining the key points and a plan of action. What we need is to get this information out to as many people as possible.

A new thread with the details can be found at

Please view this new thread, but please post on this one for continuity.

If you missed the YOU AND YOURS interview with Larry Sweeney which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 last Friday at about 12.50 you can listen again here it starts 34 minutes into the programme. Getting what could be seen as a local issue onto national radio was a huge coup. It would appear that no one from Liverpool City Council was available for comment, so Tony Newman from LB of Croydon spoke to defend Blanket Licensing. Whereas Liverpool has issued about 1400 licences in as many months, Croydon has issued around 21,000 since October last year, issued 130 improvement notices and launched 20 prosecutions. What he didn't say was that they could have done that under existing legislation, without licensing.

Congratulations to Mr. Sweeney for getting Liverpool's licensing flaws out into the open. Now please let's keep the momentum going.

A rather strange email was sent out by Liverpool following the You and Yours interview on Friday afternoon:

'Private Sector Housing Enforcement Bulletin
I’d like to welcome you to the first of our quarterly Private Sector Housing Bulletins. This is designed to give you the most up to date information on matters relevant to landlords and managing agents in Liverpool. This newsletter not only covers Landlord Licensing which came into effect on 1st April 2015 but also Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing and general Housing Enforcement activity. I hope that you find this useful.
On behalf of myself and Mayor Joe Anderson, I would like to thank you all for your continued co-operation in helping us make Liverpool a city we are proud of, which attracts investment and where our tenants feel safe in their homes.
Cabinet Member for Housing - Councillor Frank Hont
Landlord Licensing - Key points
Over 42,000 property licence applications have been received and licences are being issued. We have a staged application and payment process which was put in place at the request of the sector to assist proposed license holders. After the initial application process, there is a ‘Fit and Proper Person’ check on every potential licence holder to ensure that applicants meet the test before moving forward with the final part of the application. Any concerns we have are brought to the attention of the applicant who is invited in to discuss the matter further. Every case is treated on its own merits. If you require further information regarding what a Fit and Proper check involves, please contact us.
Application Process - Important Update
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has recently written to Liverpool City Council (LCC) in respect of the wording on the application form used for the Landlord Licensing Scheme.
The ICO has asked that we clarify and review the wording used in our application process insofar as the forms could be viewed as appearing to seek the consent of applicants for the City Council to contact third parties and specifically a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check. This is not and has never been the case. With this in mind, the ICO has asked the City Council to ensure that this is made clear to all applicants.
As a result we have now made the necessary revisions to both the online and paper application forms. We are also reviewing and updating the user guidance provided to applicants to ensure that it is made clear what this section of the application means.
The request from the ICO to revise and clarify the landlord licensing application form does not affect the validity of the application process, any applications made under the scheme or the scheme itself. The Landlord Licensing Scheme remains entirely compliant with all relevant legislative provisions and will continue to remain in force until 31st March 2020.
All licences issued to date under the scheme remain valid and existing licence holders are not required to submit new application forms. Liverpool City Council can also confirm that no data received from applicants under the scheme has been shared other than in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and associated legislation.
Over 600 permanent and temporary exemptions from licensing have been granted. Compliance checks have started on those properties that have been issued a licence and the general standard of compliance with licence conditions is good. We are continuing to work with licence holders to assist and advise to ensure that they fully comply with their conditions. We have specialist Anti-social Behaviour (ASB) staff on hand to assist with advice/actions regarding challenging tenants. They have dealt with over 30 individual cases of continued ASB, working with landlords to advise and support them in their obligations under the scheme. Please get in touch if you would like support in this area.
Unlicensed Properties
We are committed to ensuring that all landlords comply with the city wide scheme and our focus in the second year is to investigate and enforce on all unlicensed properties. The Compliance Team is taking a more robust stance advising unlicensed property owners of their obligations under the scheme. Failure to submit an application will result in a final letter with our officers starting investigations into the offence of operating an unlicensed property. To date over 900 unlicensed properties have been identified with the majority of landlords complying once notified. Going forward there will be a proactive, targeted presence on the ground to identify properties that have failed to engage with the scheme.
For example, recent work based on information received focusing on several streets in Kensington resulted in a large number of properties being identified as operating without the required licence. These landlords will be contacted and should they fail to start the application process then formal action including potential prosecution will begin.
The team are currently gathering evidence and preparing prosecution files in respect of a number of unlicensed properties and once agreed at a case conference, prosecutions will commence against these property owners.
Clarification will be given on our conditions relating to ASB to provide greater clarity for license holders and we will be in touch soon.
HMO Licensing/Housing Enforcement
HMO Licensing has had an increase in initial (or new) applications with 75 new applications coming into the City Council since the launch of selective licensing. The team is keen to simplify the application process for both initials and renewals and applicants/licence holders can expect to see shorter forms in the near future.
The Housing Enforcement Team has recently completed a number of successful prosecutions for housing related offences. The City Council will continue to work in partnership with the private sector to raise standards and this will include engaging, educating and assisting landlords and property managers. However, where informal action fails, then the City Council will not hesitate to take formal action where necessary. This will be proportionate and consistent with our Enforcement Policy. Recent cases include:
Case 1 (July 2015) 324 Rice Lane, L9 – Failure to comply with a Prohibition Order from the operative date. Both owners were fined £8,000 each, costs awarded to LCC of £1,326 and a victim surcharge of £200 was awarded
Case 2 (May 2016): 324 Rice Lane, L9 – following the initial conviction, the landlords/owners continued to allow occupation of the property whilst the Prohibition Order was still in force. The owner was fined £60,000, costs awarded to LCC of £944 and a victim surcharge of £170 was awarded
Case 3 (May 2016) 114a Bold Street, L1. Prosecution was taken against the two companies for operating an unlicensed HMO with issues of disrepair as clear mitigating factors. Each company was fined £17,500 and costs of £647 from each company were awarded to LCC
Case 4 (May 2106) 82 Holt Road, L7 – Prosecution was taken against two companies who were fined £1,000 and £500 respectively for operating an unlicensed HMO, £1,200 for breaches of HMO management regulations respectively. Costs of £1,500 were awarded to LCC and a victim surcharge of £140 for each company.
Redress Scheme
The team will continue to actively enforce the Redress Scheme and have recently issued Fixed Penalty Notices in respect of Companies failing to Comply with the Regulations.
Liverpool City Council is committed to working constructively with all landlords and property managers across the city in order to maintain and improve standards and conditions of private sector properties. We thank you for your continued support.'

I wonder what they really think!



by maurice1 dev

15:06 PM, 6th June 2016, About 6 years ago

"On behalf of myself and Mayor Joe Anderson, I would like to thank you all for your continued co-operation in helping us make Liverpool a city we are proud of, which attracts investment and where our tenants feel safe in their homes."

I think that if I had a choice of Liverpool vs Manchester without Blanket licensing, you would want to be a fool to invest in Liverpool

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