The National Landlords Association (NLA) is demanding that Liverpool City Council (LCC) postpones the launch of its city-wide licensing scheme – due to go live on 1 April – because its current application process would put every landlord in Liverpool in breach of the law.
The NLA claims that the current online application process provided by LCC does not meet legal requirements to allow landlords to comply with the new scheme. This would make landlords guilty of failing to obtain a licence and restrict their ability to regain possession of a property, which is a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
After seeking legal advice from David Smith of Anthony Gold Solicitors, the NLA has challenged the council to provide a solution, before 1 April 2015, or to postpone the ‘go-live’ date so that landlords are not unnecessarily criminalised.
Richard Lambert, chief executive officer at the NLA, said: “After seeking legal advice, we believe that the council has failed to meet its obligations in providing a suitable application process which meets the requirements as set out in law, yet it intends to make it an offence to manage an unlicensed property next week.
“This puts landlords in an impossible position of being unable to comply with the scheme, and consequently unable to use a section notice 21 to gain possession of a property.”
Following the NLA’s first letter, sent on 19 March, LCC issued a ‘downloadable’ application form which landlords can fill out and return to the council.
Richard Lambert continued: “As things stand, we’re strongly advising landlords to avoid the online registration route at all costs and to instead download an application form and fill it out manually in order to escape being put at risk.
“However, we’ve again written to LCC (23 March) to demand that they implement an operational online application process immediately or postpone the launch of the scheme until they can provide a legal way for landlords to comply”.
The NLA first wrote to Liverpool Mayor (Joe Anderson) requesting dialogue to find a solution on 10 March, but has yet to receive a reply (as of 24 March 2015).