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News Report Page 5 of 9
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Consultation on fresh landlord licensing scheme

LIVERPOOL is set to start consulting on a comprehensive landlord licensing scheme which would cover around 80% of privately rented properties in the City. In January, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick turned down an application to keep the Citywide scheme going from April 2020, claiming the Council did not provide robust evidence to show low housing demand across the City.  This was despite it being backed by Merseyside Police, Mersey Fire and Rescue Service and the majority of residents who responded to the consultation.  Now the Council's Cabinet is being asked to approve a plan to start consultation on a new preferred scheme, based on poor property conditions, which would target the 16 wards in the City where at least one in five homes is owned by a private landlord. It would mean that around 45,000 of the 55,000 properties in the original scheme would still be covered by the initiative, giving the Council additional powers to drive up standards and keep vulnerable tenants safe.  The wards included would be:- Central, Riverside, Greenbank, Kensington, Picton, Tuebrook and Stoneycroft, County, Anfield, St Michael's, Princes Park, Kirkdale, Old Swan, Warbreck, Wavertree, Fazakerley and Everton. The Council is also proposing consulting on two alternatives, which would include slightly fewer wards. One, based on low housing demand, would cover all of those in the preferred option, apart from Greenbank, St Michael's and Wavertree. The other, based on deprivation, would include all of those in the preferred option, apart from Central and Wavertree. Whichever scheme is taken forward, the Council would still investigate issues with properties outside of the designated landlord licensing area if it receives complaints and referrals. A 12 week consultation will now run from August to October 2020, with a submission made to the Government for ministerial consideration in December 2020.

Landlord Licensing Fact File:-

► Between 2015 and 2020, 70% of inspected properties in Liverpool were found to be in breach of their licence condition, uncovering serious hazards such as fire, electrical safety and excess cold.

► The Council carried out over 37,000 compliance actions, issued more than 2,500 legal and fixed penalty notices and prosecuted almost 250 landlords.

► Liverpool was responsible for 389% of the 460% national rise in prosecutions between 2012 and 2018.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said:- "We don't agree with the Government's decision on our original City wide submission and are still considering ways to challenge it, but I have also been very clear that it is unthinkable for us not to have a landlord licensing scheme in Liverpool. All the evidence over the last five years shows that it has made a tremendous difference to the lives of our most vulnerable residents. It has forced rogue landlords to take action to improve electrical and fire safety standards, as well as dealing with issues such as damp and anti-social behaviour.  This scheme we are proposing would still be one of the largest in the country and cover the vast majority of properties that came under the original programme, and we are confident that it would meet all of the tests to be approved by the Government."

Councillor Paul Brant, Cabinet member, said:- "We've made massive progress and led the way nationally in tackling poor housing conditions and bad property management, and we desperately need a large scheme to continue making a difference and drive up standards in the sector. Every single penny we get is ringfenced for the landlord licensing service, with our team out on the streets every day inspecting properties, chasing disrepairs and taking landlords to court when they don't sort out the problems."

Culture Secretary's announcement that gyms reopening

IN light of the announcement from UK Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, on 9 July 2020, regarding the reopening of indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities from 25 July, Ross Kirton, Head of UK Leisure Agency at Colliers International provided a comment below; if you would like to speak to him, please ring me on:- 07736 475 477. Ross Kirton, Head of UK Leisure Agency at Colliers International said:- "This afternoon's announcement will be very welcome news to gym operators, landlords, full time and freelance gym employees and customers alike. The UK Government was facing an unenviable dilemma; whilst the prospect of a 2nd wave of infections is very real, the damage which is being done by the continued closure is also an unavoidable truth, with potential for long term damage to tens of thousands of businesses and the prospect of mass unemployment a very real threat. On the one hand the scientific community has been arguing that a prolonged lockdown is the only way of suppressing the virus, whilst the counterargument that allowing increased levels of social interaction and travel will improve the mental wellbeing and financial health of the population cannot be ignored. The benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle to help against Coronavirus are well documented, as are the links between mental health and fitness so no doubt, despite some initial caution, we anticipate the sector to see a strong revival, albeit with gyms and fitness clubs ensuring social distancing measures are adhered to. Social distancing is workable in these types of environments; capaCities at certain clubs or classes being limited to begin with. However, with the majority of people still continuing to work from home, this may lead to gyms witnessing more off peak attendance so this will need to be carefully managed by operators. Some customers will be naturally cautious, or for the short term, they may look to continue with their home workouts so this will help with initial social distancing measures at gyms and fitness clubs. The cut in VAT to 5% until January that was announced for pubs, bars and restaurants by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his Budget this week could also have been applied to the gym and health sector. Not only would this have been beneficial from a fitness perspective, but if the industry was able to incentivise people to come back to using gym facilities, it would provide much needed support and security for the millions of young people working in the sector. Of most concern still is the payment of rent, and the landlord/tenant relationship between property owners and operators. Tenants are, in most cases, not able to pay rent whilst they are not trading, which is therefore also putting landlord businesses under financial pressure. The UK Government is encouraging both parties to find workable solutions and still the need to resolve this issue is certainly the single biggest immediate threat to large parts of the hospitality and leisure sectors."

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