Landlords, tenants, letting agents and other speakers gathered to hold a forum at Liverpool Town Hall, chaired by Roger Phillips of BBC Radio Merseyside. The question asked to the attendees was "Does the Private Renter Sector in Liverpool work well for Landlords, Tenants and Communities?", but the conversation was dominated by the council's plans to introduce landlord licensing.
It was a mixed response: some landlords felt they were being penalised for their hard work and effort and others felt it wasn't a fair system - one lady asked, "why should we pay to weed out the rogue landlords?" While I can understand their concerns and frustration, I do feel that the overall point of the licensing exercise has been misinterpreted - far from being a way for the council to raise money, it is a chance for the good to come together and push out the rogue landlords which in turn will promote the following in our city:
- Reducing anti-social behaviour
- Support and training for responsible landlords
- Halt area decline
- Better housing standards for private tenants
- Benefit to wider community and business
- Long term economic benefits
Ultimately, it is costly for the city council to prosecute bad landlords under the current system, but by denying them a licence, the council would force bad landlords to take the council to court if they want to continue operating.
There are administrative and financial details to iron out prior to the roll out date in April, which is why it is crucial for the Council to maintain contact with landlords and to work together with the community during this period. Cllr Ann O’Byrne, the cabinet member for housing, is completely behind this action, saying:
"It is very important that people understand fully what is being considered. There has been some misinformation issued, for example, about the likely cost of a licence and we want landlords, tenants, businesses and other organisations to have the correct facts so they can feed informed opinions into the consultation process. This proposal is about us encouraging good landlords and letting tenants be more aware about the quality of the management of their homes."
All in all for a first session into the unknown territory of landlord licensing the debate was productive, it is now essential to maintain the momentum of these forums so that people get the opportunity to discuss the implications prior to the roll out in April. By working together, hopefully Liverpool will indeed soon become a flagship city for fair and transparent licensing.