Liverpool city council says it is “looking very closely” at the wording of legislation which allows it to force all landlords to sign up to a licensing scheme.
The compulsory city-wide licensing was set up by the council in a bid to drive up standards in privately rented homes across Liverpool.
But a letter from a government minister has forced the authority to look again at the scheme.
The letter from Brandon Lewis MP, minister for housing and planning, says the ‘“blanket” approach taken by some local authorities has “major drawbacks”.
Mr Lewis wrote to councils this week saying the Government is now insisting local authorities will have to seek confirmation from the Secretary of State for any selective licensing scheme which would cover more than 20% of their geographical area or homes.
Mr Lewis said such licensing schemes can play an important role when “strictly focused on discrete areas” with specific problems, and added: “However, the blanket licensing approach adopted by some local authorities has major drawbacks.
“This is because it impacts on all landlords and places additional burdens on reputable landlords who are already fully compliant with their obligations, thereby creating additional unnecessary costs for reputable landlords which are generally passed on to tenants through higher rents.”
This week Liverpool city council announced that more than a quarter of private landlords in Liverpool have so far signed up to the city’s new compulsory licensing scheme.
The mandatory initiative requires all landlords in the city to have a five year licence for each of their rented properties as part of a major drive to improve standards in the sector.
Liverpool is the first major city to introduce a city-wide ‘selective licensing’ scheme, and up to 50,000 properties owned by an estimated 5,000 landlords will be covered when it becomes a legal requirement from April 1 this year.
The local authority said the first part of the application process opened in late February, and so far 1,341 landlords who between them manage 5,870 properties have registered their details.