Selective Licensing – Liverpool landlord needs help

by Readers Question

4 years ago

Selective Licensing – Liverpool landlord needs help

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Selective Licensing – Liverpool landlord needs help

Liverpool City Council is proposing to bring in ‘selective licensing’ for all private landlords – if you own property in Liverpool you have the opportunity to ‘ take part in the consultation and share you views’ at meetings arranged for Monday 2nd June and Wednesday 4th June. visit www.liverpool.gov.uk/selectivelicensing .

As a landlord with several properties in Liverpool I can see no benefit to either myself or my tenants from licensing – all I can see is a large up front bill for 5 years fees in advance.

Are these programmes really about improving the lot of tenants or more about filling holes in a council’s annual budget?

Many thanks Paulliverpool



Comments

Gilly

4 years ago

Hi Paul,

In most places where this has been brought in it has caused huge angst amongst landlords and the arguments remain the same. It is costly (although councils are not supposed to profit from the schemes) - there are various examples of places where it has not worked (Scotland) and in several cases it has not been re-newed after the initial period.

It appears to have little effect on bad landlords (hardly any prosections have taken place and onlya few have been brought into the fold) whereas all of us poor old landlords who try to keep up with the regulations and do the right thing, merely pay out more and more in un-necessary expenses (stealth taxes) for no return.

Selective licensing takes no account of low-risk properties or how houses can vary (regs are virtually the same for three people in a two bedroomed house as for 21 people in an HMO to use two extreme examples). In Wales they have tried to regulate between the 22 councils but this has simply meant that the rules are all even more stringent and unbending than before!

I submitted a similar question a month or so ago and although there was some support (and I thank everyone for responding) naturally it is not particularly important until it affects you. Well the bad news is that councils up and down the country are getting away with it, see other councils raising revenue and follow suit. They want every property that is let to be registered and accountable, both for tax purposes and for Council tax purposes (and elf n safety of course). It is all about control and feels very big brotherish to me.

In my view the standard of tenanted properties has risen beyond all expectations over the last ten years and the law weighs down heavily in favour of tenants. I have had people walk out because there is no dishwasher and we paint throughout and upgrade regularly to keep up with the competition from new builds. Instead of a handshake and exchange of keys and money, I now spend hours preparing agreements and Inventories and Deposit protection - none of which help me particularly if a bad tenant refuses to pay, does a runner or has a pet or smokes.

Good luck and you will be lucky if it costs you no more than the license fee. They nearly always pick on something to "improve" such as doors, extractor fans, no wallpaper in the hall, thumbturn locks etc - however nice and relatively safe the property may be. Sorry I'm starting to sound like the grumpy old woman that this is making me.....

Devon Landlord

4 years ago

I can only support what Gilly says. Fight against these impositions as they are merely stealth taxes on GOOD Landlords. I asked on Council to justify their the cost of an HMO licence and I have never seen such a load of old rubbish as reasons for their exorbitant charges. They even charge the same as a renewal cost. It is unacceptable and needs to be challenged by every landlord who gets a bill they feel is over the top. I am not a militant person by nature but I hate being ripped off and have unfair things done to me. The silent majority needs to stand up against this as it achieves nothing but an extra cost which will be imposed upon tenants eventually. Again it is a hidden way of taxing the poorest people in our communities via the landlords who then get the bad name.

So, Paul, go to the meeting and protest loudly and get all the rest of the landlords who are there to do the same. make their lives hell over this issue and get your Council representatives on board to support you and if they don't fight them at the next election!

Michael Barnes

4 years ago

I suggest that you
1. Go to all the meetings you can.
2. Prepare and ask lots of awkward pertinent questions.
3. Find as many fellow landlords as you can to do likewise.
4. Don't let them end the meeting until they have addressed all your questions (or if they do, then contact local newspapers with your story)
5. Contact local newspapers to find out which journalists will be attending the meetings and ask to talk to those journalists.

The sort of questions I would ask are:

1. How will the scheme provide benefits to the community?

2.What adverse effects will the scheme have on areas that are not covered by the scheme, both within the council area and outside it. [sub-text: are they trying to get an undesirable element of tenants out of their area?]

3. How will the scheme improve their ability to detect and tackle poor landlords?

4. How much will the scheme cost each landlord?

5. How many landlords operate in the area?
5.1 How do they know?
5.2 If they know this, then why do they need to introduce licensing, when they could use existing legislation to pursue poor landlords?
5.3 If they do not know this, then how do they know that their charges are not excessive?

6. How many let properties are there in the area?
6.1 How do they know?
6.2 If they do not know, then how do they know that their charges are not excessive?
6.3 If they know this, then why do they need to introduce licensing, when they could use existing legislation to pursue poor landlords?

7. If their charges are more than that required to administer the scheme, then how will they make refunds?

8. If their charges are not enough to administer the scheme, then what action will they take?

9. Will licensing be by property or by landlord?

10. Will charges be by property or by landlord?

11. How much do they expect rents to increase to cover the costs of the scheme?
11.1 If zero, then
11.1.1 why do they expect your business not to pass its costs on to its customers?
11.1.2 Do they propose any powers to prevent costs being passed on to tenants?
11.2 if not zero, then
11.2.1 How did they calculate this?
11.2.2 Do they believe that such an increase is acceptable to tenants?
11.2.3 What do they plan to do to ensure that poor landlords who do not register do not benefit from the general rise in rents in the area?
12. What actions will they take to detect landlords/properties operating without a license?
12.1 If none, then what is the point of the scheme?
12.2 If actions proposed, then
12.2.1 Why are they not taking those actions already?
12.2.2 How will those actions differ from actions they could take under existing legislation?
13. Have they considered alternative schemes, such as encouraging tenants to notify them of property they are renting or intending to rent. [Such a scheme may identify more poor landlords than a scheme that poor landlords can choose to ignore, and may be cheaper to administer].

I could go on, but I am getting hungry.
I'm sure that you can think of many more pertinent questions to ask.

One final point:
I'm not in favour of selective licensing, but if it goes ahead, then I believe that all let properties should be required to have a small 'notice' by the front door identifying that the property is let. Tenants and neighbours could then report unlicensed properties to the authority to allow them to take action.

Paul A Brady

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "MdeB " at "27/05/2014 - 11:19":

Hello Gilly, Devon Landlord and MdeB,

Thank you all for your responses and suggestions - greatly appreciated. I must apologise for not responding earlier, but I just got back from Liverpool ( where else?!) and do not have internet/email access while away.

You may note that not a single Liverpool landlord has posted a comment and that is part of the problem - getting the information out there. A few of us will be at the meetings next week and will certainly raise some of the key points you have all made.

The Liverpool Echo recently printed an article describing landlords as ' ... castle-owning barons,.' hmmm - looking out of my north turret I cannot see us getting much support from them! They are, of course happy to take the advertising revenue.

The link to the 'landlord article is http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/billions-going-fat-cat-wallets-6737809

Many thanks again for your input - I will write again after the meetings.

Paul

Michael Barnes

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul A Brady" at "29/05/2014 - 21:00":

That is why you need to talk tyo the journalists and explain your side of the picture, all of the down sides of being a landlord, particularly how difficult it is to get rid of bad tenants, whilst acknowledging that there are bad landlords out there that need to be tackled.

What you realy need to do with journalists is get them looking into what is being proposed and whether it is cost-effective given that tenants will ultimately pay for it. They can then be left to run with it.

John Daley

4 years ago

Hi Paul,

Having read Liverpool's licensing proposal, which I would suggest everyone does before spouting off, the case here is rather different to the usual licensing case.

Their problem is low demand, with more than 5% of properties vacant in the city, a lot for a long time. This is causing problems in particular areas, but is also general in the city.

Demand is reducing and numbers of traditional renters are on the slide, students for example. So areas of high voids are blighting the city. I assume that rents are reducing and PRS landlords are doing less in the way of maintenance and management as a result.

So the licensing proposal is really about making landlords meet a minimum standard by enforcing license conditions and getting some of the voids onto the market for sale. However painful the market will go down before it goes up.

I don't know how many times Hemming v Westminster will have to be mentioned before everyone gets that the Council can't use licensing fees for anything other than licensing. Councils are not perfect but they don't tend to break the law and not in a way that would be so easy to expose.

I accept that landlords don't like it but this was one of the key reasons why the law was enacted in the first place. £500 for five years is less than £2 a week.

On balance I think this may well have the effect they are looking for.

Devon Landlord

4 years ago

This is a response to the latter point made by John Daley above, regarding the cost of HMO Licensing which I mentioned in my previous response. Though I agree with the principle of licensing for HMOs I do not for the average 'family let'. I was making the point regarding the charges which is the issue here and the actual cost of completing the assessment and the awarding of the licence. I fail to see how it can cost in excess of £800.00 (or even more in some parts of the country) to conduct the process and I also fail even more to see why the re-licensing charge is identical. I saw one case recently where the landlord, who had asked for a breakdown of the costs, had a bill that itemised the work of the senior manager at over £250.00 and clerical support at £45.00 an hour. I doubt that the 'senior manager' had ever seen the forms and details let alone spent £250.00 of their time working on it.

The cost on a daily basis is not more that £3.00 but why pay this amount when the real costs are appreciably less? And who pays in the long run? The tenant. This drives up costs as the landlord will see it as a legitimate expense and pass it on. As many tenants are on benefits it means that the TAX PAYER picks up the bill in the end. This stupid cycle of charging what they think they can get away with rather than the real cost of the process is unacceptable and it needs to be stopped! My comments regarding HMOs will, no doubt, be echoed in the costs for residential licenses and we need to make a stand against them now, before they are rolled out affecting every landlord across the country.

Devon Landlord

Tony McVey

4 years ago

Paul,

Liverpool landlords have been talking to the city
council about selective licensing for 18 months.
The North West Property Owners Association has held 3 public meetings about it. There have
been letters (from me) in the Liverpool Echo etc
etc. If you need more information please
contact me at the Association.

Simon Topple

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Tony McVey" at "01/06/2014 - 20:35":

There has already been a lot of discussion on other forums - I have discussed this on Propertytribes, and there is very active discussion on the many facebook groups (UK BMV forum, HMO network etc). I think many landlords are aware of it, but unfortunately many simply do not have a clue. We've done our best to inform our landlords about it, via newsletters and updates (as well as on our company facebook page).

If you are a liverpool landlord (like me!) you need to feed into the consulation process.

http://liverpool.gov.uk/council/consultation/consultation-on-a-citywide-selective-licensing-scheme/

Consultation closes on the 16th June 2014. The council is also holding consultation workshops - one today, and one this Wednesday at 1.30. More details on the link above.

I personally think the council has already made their mind up (which legally should rule out using a consulatation process) but landlords cannot sit back and do nothing. At the end of it, the council will be spending £25 million of good landlords money to create a list of good landlords.

Tim Wragby

4 years ago

Blog from Nick Stott - as the consultation Forum meeting happened today 4 Jun 14
makes for compelling reading

http://www.homesureproperty.co.uk/landlord-licensing-in-liverpool-consultation-forum-4th-june-2014

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