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Crackdown on rogue landlords to continue

26 July 2023
A stock images showing a row of terraced houses set against a blue and cloudy sky

Tenants in private-rented accommodation in some of Wirral’s most deprived neighbourhoods will get greater protection from rogue landlords if plans, which are currently subject to public consultation, are progressed.

The proposals suggest continuing the existing Selective Licensing scheme in two areas and introducing licensing for private sector landlords in two further areas from 2024 until 2029.

Selective Licensing requires landlords in these areas to obtain a licence to operate and agree to a range of conditions around the standards of their accommodation. The aim is to drive up the quality of rented accommodation in parts of Birkenhead and Wallasey.

The scheme is focused on areas where there is a higher-than-average number of private rented properties available, a higher turnover of tenants and poorer property conditions.

The four areas being consulted upon are Birkenhead West; Seacombe St Pauls; Bidston and St James West; and Egremont North. The latter two areas are where the new schemes are proposed, the first two have already been subject to Selective Licensing since 2019.

As Selective Licensing schemes have a maximum duration of five years, the council has to make a robust case for extending an existing scheme – or introducing new ones – and consultation with residents, tenants and landlords is part of that process.

In areas where there is Selective Licensing, it is a criminal offence to let a privately rented property without a licence or breach any of the conditions of the scheme. Any landlord that doesn’t fully comply could be prosecuted and receive an unlimited fine. Alternatively, the council can impose a civil penalty of up to £30,000.

Wirral introduced Selective Licensing in 2015 covering four small parts of the borough. That initial programme ran until 2020 and resulted in 57 individual prosecutions for landlords who failed to get a licence or other Housing Act 2004 offences.

So far under the second scheme (2019-24), there have been 18 successful prosecutions and one Landlord Banning Order confirmed after an appeal. However, those numbers – and those for the start of the third scheme (2020-25) – were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant no inspections could be carried out between March 2020 and September 2021.

Selective Licensing is about making sure people live in decent homes. We know that most landlords take their responsibilities seriously but some others profit from renting out homes which are unacceptable and not fit for purpose – and they are the ones we are determined to target.

The use of Selective Licensing will help us in tackling rogue landlords and protecting tenants in Wirral.

Cllr Tony Jones, Chair of Economy, Regeneration and Housing Committee

As part of the consultation, residents will also be asked their views on a range of new policies and procedures relating to powers to regulate private landlords who fail their tenants including amongst others banning orders, use of the national rogue landlord database and rent repayment orders.

Full details of the consultation and how to get involved is available on the council website 

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