NLA slams licensing schemes

The statement, made by the new chair of the NLA Carolyn Uphill, came after the news that Liverpool City Council are preparing a business case to implement a selective licensing scheme.

Uphill said: “The trouble with selective licensing is that it only catches those landlords doing things right but don’t have the correct piece of paper. One of the objectives is to stamp out anti-social behaviour but landlords do not have the power to do anything about this.”

Uphill, who previously worked as a local representative for Manchester, used the example of Manchester City Council which chose not to renew its selective licensing scheme, to highlight the scheme’s shortcomings.

She said: “Manchester scrapped the scheme because it decided that it did not make a difference to standards within the private rented sector and it was able to bring about large prosecutions without it.”

The aim of selective licensing is to ensure landlords manage their tenancies effectively by reducing anti-social behaviour. But according to Manchester City Council the scheme does not have enough enforcement powers to secure a prosecution against the landlord for not managing a tenant’s behaviour.

Officers would need to prove anti-social behaviour with a caseload of evidence and then prove the landlord had not taken reasonable steps to tackle the behaviour all without input from either party.

This makes it difficult for officers to gather sufficient evidence to prosecute landlords due to anti-social behaviour.

A Manchester City Council spokesman said: "We found that selective licensing did not achieve the outcomes we wanted; dealing with anti social behaviour through improved management standards and improved property conditions while remaining good value for money.

"Responsible landlords often came forward quickly but the time required to process the applications, chase up paperwork and inspect properties pulled the focus away from targeting and enforcing poor landlords to raise standards so the main aim of the scheme could not be effectively achieved."