UK’s biggest landlord licensing scheme closes down
The government has rejected proposals from Liverpool City Council to renew its landlord licensing scheme for a further five years, despite backing for it from Merseyside Police and the local Fire and Rescue service. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick rejected the city-wide plans in January this year, and his approval is needed for it to continue.
Since 2015, the scheme has required landlords to meet regulations on fire and fuel services safety standards and prove that they are “fit and proper” to rent out properties.
After the licenses were introduced almost five years ago, landlords’ associations suggested the government was attempting to introduce a buy-to-let register by the back door. However, across the country, many local authorities operate similar schemes with fees of up to £1,000 for landlords, covering 20% of the rental properties in their area.
Under the schemes, the councils are authorised to carry out regular inspections in an attempt to track down those perceived to be rogue landlords. According to local reports, 70% of properties in Liverpool inspected by the local authority were failing to meet legal requirements. This resulted in 250 landlords being prosecuted, with more than 2,500 legal notices being issued.
There is now widespread concern within the council that tenants will be put at risk once the register scheme ends.
Onus on landlords
The onus is on landlords to provide a safe and healthy environment for tenants, and one way to do this is by carrying out regular property inspections during the period of the lease. It is recommended to check a property after the tenant has been in occupation for three months, and landlords can access a property inspection app online at sites such as https://inventorybase.co.uk/.
The government, however, seems to be caught between talking tough on tenants’ rights to a safe environment and a desire for the market to offer affordable housing. Whatever the fallout from this decision, landlords are advised to carry out regular property inspections for their own peace of mind as well as their tenants’ safety.
Such inspections not only help you keep on top of small repairs before they deteriorate into an expensive job, but also mean that you can keep an eye on how the property is being treated and ensure that your tenants are complying with the conditions of their lease.