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Public Information Announcement on behalf of; North West Property Owners Association to The Landlord Advisory Panel

It was very good to meet you at all at the meeting of the Panel on 11 July 2017.

I think for transparency reasons I should tell you all that I am a Councillor but not for Liverpool City Council and that my attending has nothing to do with my duties as a Councillor and that I am not representing my Council and that I am here purely for business reasons. However, I do understand the workings and reporting mechanisms employed by Local Authorities.

My background and it has been for the last thirty years is in accountancy and property.  I am a qualified accountant of over 25years haven studied under the ACCA. (Association Chartered Certified Accountants). To this day I run both a property business and accountancy business.

I have some concerns regarding the direction of the PRS sector taken by Liverpool City Council and I would like to share my thoughts;

The New Proposed Standards Scheme for the PRS (so called Gold, silver & bronze) award - my experience has been that every scheme introduced has had a financial implication whether that be HHSRS2004, Citywide Selective Licensing & compliance. That Citywide Selective Licensing likely has a limited life span and that future Selective Licensing will be just that hence the £22M raised on this occasion will in the future have a great big budget hole. The new scheme will have the capacity to fill that budgeting hole, well at least that will be the plan. The Advisory Panel is right to insist the Officers budget for the cost of developing and evolving a new scheme.

Furthermore, the Panel is right to make the case that Opportunity Cost and its impact on quality in the PRS. As the PRS sector is being used as a cash cow by central & local governments the money we spend cannot be used to improve housing and paying additional taxes without one impacting the other. There appears to be no reality with the decisions being taken.

The minutes from the April 2017 meeting were refused an amendment and it should be qualified that it was refused and that a referral to the city solicitor was also denied.

Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Mr Tony McVey rightly made a request for disclosed information on the accounting and its appropriation of funds. As you are aware the Licensing fee can be not be used to police or sanction. The Panel is correct to audit the appropriation of the fees in order to determine whether they have been used correctly. For E.g. The defence of Sweeney in the courts should not have been used from the Licensing fee.

The Panel is correct in requesting to see sight of the performance indicators and financial information being reported at Overview & Scrutiny. 

Pecuniary Interest - Each Councillor has a legal duty to disclose their pecuniary and non pecuniary interest held by the individual. In fact this information can be obtained form the council web site of members. The Panel should give consideration to meeting with their local Councillor especially those owning BTL property in Liverpool with a view to discussing the impact of the legislation currently in place and and legislation as yet to have impact such as s24FA15. 

Terminology - the language used in the letters following an inspection is often confusing failing to provide clear instruction as to what is required and using phrases such as, "the door should snap shut" fails to convey what it is you want us to do to correct the perceived fault. At other times officers has requested actions when in fact it was not required or he/she actually required something quite different.

Lastly you may or may it be aware Liverpool City Council passed a motion (Thursday 19 July 2017) by Councillors that Landlord Licensing should be national policy. The Panel are not against Licensing just the fee. We don't believe the motivation was altruistic but simply a mechanism to plug a hole in the forthcoming budget. 

If anyone would like to discuss the points I have raised please contact me on 0151 928 0382.

Kind regards, 

John Bullock


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