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Liverpool Licensing now refusing fee discounts

Thursday 03 August 2017

The Liverpool Landlord Licensing Scheme allows for license holders to receive discounted fees if they have opted in to one of the chosen regulators - one of them being ARLA Propertymark.

However, members need to be aware that Liverpool City Council has announced that, as the licensing body, they can now refuse fee discounts under certain circumstances, even for co-regulated members.

Please read the FAQs below to help you and your landlords to understand the Liverpool Landlord Licensing Scheme and the changes that have recently come into force. 

What is Co-Regulation?

In response to landlords and agents, three organisations are working with Liverpool City Council to co-regulate licence holders. This is to ensure that property management standards are maintained, licence conditions are met/improved and complaints about licensed properties dealt with appropriately.    

Licence holders receive a discounted fee if they are “opted in” to one of the chosen co regulators for each of their properties. Landlord Licensing undertakes sample compliance checks and refer complaints to the appropriate co-regulator.

Who are the co-regulators?

There are three co-regulators, each of which has an agreement with Liverpool City Council until the end of the scheme on 31st March 2020. They are:

  • Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)
  • National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS)
  • Residential Landlords Association (RLA)

Each charges a membership fee which is not under the control of the City Council. Please direct all queries to your preferred co-regulator and their membership teams.  There are links on the website.

What has happened to CLASS?

In 2006, the City Council introduced the Citywide Landlord Accreditation Safety Scheme (CLASS) which was free and voluntary for landlords. These property owners were achieving safety and management standards higher than the selective licensing conditions. As such, they were considered low risk and it was decided to reward these with fee discounts. This offer was extended over the first year of the selective licensing scheme to 10th May 2016. All applications seeking discounts for CLASS accreditation should have been completed by 31st January 2017. Although CLASS is still available and free to join, fee discounts are no longer given. CLASS is being reviewed and will be replaced by a PRS Standard which is being developed in collaboration with private sector landlords/agents.

How do I get a discount from a co-regulator?

Following satisfactory checks, each co-regulator accepts members if they confirm they are co-opted into the City Council’s licence conditions. On a regular basis, each co-regulator provides a list of their members each of which will have a unique reference number which is checked against licence applications. You must be a member of one of the schemes to receive the discount before your landlord licence application is submitted. Discounts will not be applied retrospectively.

You must remain a member of a co-regulation scheme throughout the lifetime of the licensing. You will be charged the full fee if you fail to maintain quality standards required, or, leave the scheme for any reason such as sanctions taken against you.

Are there instances when fee discounts are refused?

The City Council will refuse fee discounts in the following circumstances:

  • Proposed licence holders who are subject to current investigations into alleged unlicensed properties, or, who have been prosecuted for operating unlicensed properties (within the last 12 months);
  • Where there has been formal enforcement action taken for breaches of housing and or public health offences and other related legislation i.e. the service of legal notices or a civil penalty issued against the proposed licence holder (within the last 12 months);
  • Where there has been a successful prosecution against proposed licence holders for  breaches of housing and or public health offences or other related legislation  (within the last 12 months);

Consideration will be given to refusing the discount for the entire licence holder’s portfolio unless there are extenuating circumstances about individual properties.  

When considering whether or not to refuse a discount, service managers will discuss the case and a record kept of the decision for audit purposes. This decision will be sent to the applicant and the co-regulator informed. This is final and has no right of appeal. If licence holders are dissatisfied about this decision they can use the City Council’s Have Your Say Procedure.

What happens to complaints and referrals about co-regulated properties?

Landlord Licensing receives all referrals/complaints about private rented properties in Liverpool. In circumstances, where it receives a complaint about a licensed property that falls under co-regulation, the service issues three letters:

  • To the complainant to acknowledge receipt and to confirm if the situation has improved within 28 days;
  • To the licence holder requesting they take action as appropriate;
  • To the co-regulator on a referral together with a copy of letter to licence holder

Landlord Licensing monitors all complaints and expects co-regulators to ensure their members deal with these effectively and where appropriate through their own complaints or redress schemes. However, in circumstances where there is a potential Category 1 hazard, then the matter is immediately risk assessed by housing enforcement officers who will deal with the licence holder. In each situation, the co-regulators will be informed of actions taken

For regular updates, please visit www.liverpool.gov.uk