A statutory consultation on extending the use of Selective Licensing is now underway in Wirral.
Selective Licensing requires landlords to have a licence to operate and comply with a range of licence conditions, in specific areas.
Wirral Council is now consulting on both re-designating four existing licensing areas due to expire at the end of June 2020 - Birkenhead South, Egerton North, Egremont Promenade South and Seacombe Library - and extending selective licensing to two further areas (Egremont South and Tranmere Lairds) to help drive up the quality of rented accommodation in parts of Birkenhead and Wallasey.
The consultation is open from Monday 5 August until Monday 14 October 2019, with questionnaires for residents as well as landlords.
The Selective Licensing scheme is focused on areas where there is a higher than average number of private rented housing available, having a higher turnover of tenants and poorer property conditions.
It is a criminal offence to let a privately rented property in a Selective Licensing Area without a licence and failure to have a license, or a breach of the license conditions, can lead to prosecution and to an unlimited fine. Alternatively, the Council can impose a Civil Penalty of up to £30,000.
Wirral introduced its first Selective Licensing Scheme in the Borough on 1 July 2015 and since then more than 1,300 Licence applications have been granted in these areas representing over 99% of known licensable landlords.
In these areas, 852 properties have been inspected, and 62% of these were informally advised on improvements needed. A further 8% (66 properties) have required formal action, and while prosecutions are restricted to the very worst performing landlords, the Council has seen a 300% increase in the number of prosecutions taken since the start of Selective Licensing.
Cabinet member for Housing and Planning, Cllr Stuart Whittingham, said: “Most landlords take their responsibilities seriously and this is not about them.
“However, we are determined to crack down on those who provide – and profit from – renting out homes which are unacceptable and not fit for purpose.
“I am pleased that we are now taking these proposals forward for the further use of Selective Licensing and new policies for tackling rogue landlords and protecting tenants in Wirral.”