In a substantial move to address growing concerns of criminality within the private housing sector, Liverpool City Council is set to unveil a pioneering taskforce. Securing £2 million in funding from the Department for Levelling Up pathfinder, the initiative aims to revolutionize the approach to combating rogue landlords and their involvement in illicit activities that exploit vulnerable tenants.
The newly established Private Sector Housing Intelligence and Enforcement Task Force is poised to redefine collaboration within the local authority. By partnering with various organizations across the City Region, the council seeks to create a comprehensive strategy to disrupt landlords who engage in nefarious activities, including collaboration with gangmasters and those involved in exploitative practices such as sex work and drug dealing.
The task force comprises a dedicated team that brings additional resources to the local authority, enabling it to tackle the most intricate cases. Often, tenants in these situations are reluctant to report crimes due to fears of potential reprisals. The team’s primary focus is on adopting an enforcement strategy rooted in intelligence gathering and targeted operations, with the overarching goal of driving unscrupulous landlords out of the market.
Recognizing the cross-jurisdictional nature of the issue, the task force will collaborate with neighboring authorities, acknowledging that landlords frequently own properties spanning multiple areas. This cooperative effort extends to partners such as Trading Standards, Children’s Services, and Merseyside Police, fostering information sharing and joint actions where deemed necessary.
The initiative aligns seamlessly with the Council’s innovative Neighbourhood Model of working, designed to break down silos and foster closer collaboration with external entities to enhance services. While complementary to the Council’s existing Landlord Licensing scheme, covering approximately 70% of the city’s privately rented housing sector, the new task force takes a distinct focus on tackling criminal activities associated with rogue landlords.
The Landlord Licensing scheme predominantly addresses concerns related to fire and electrical safety hazards, excess cold and damp, as well as preventing and addressing anti-social behavior. In contrast, the task force zeroes in on the criminal elements within the landlord community, recognizing the unique challenges these cases pose.
The official launch of the task force is scheduled for December 1st, with a summit involving Liverpool City Council and key partners at the iconic Cunard Building. The event marks a pivotal moment in the city’s commitment to eradicating criminal rogue landlords who, in the pursuit of financial gain, exploit tenants and jeopardize the well-being of the city.
The Cabinet Member for Housing emphasized the significance of the task force, stating, “This task force is about tackling criminal rogue landlords who do not care about their tenants, nor our city.” The emphasis is on landlords exploiting vulnerable individuals who often refrain from reporting crimes due to fear. Recognizing the complexity of these issues, it was highlighted that a dedicated team is needed to address the time-consuming nature of evidence collection.
“This is a key part of our commitment to improving our neighbourhoods and making them better areas to live for our residents,” the Cabinet Member for Housing added. By fostering close collaboration with partner organizations, the council aims to make a tangible difference in the lives of vulnerable individuals and contribute to the broader objective of driving rogue landlords out of Liverpool. The launch of the task force signals a proactive step towards creating safer and more secure housing environments for the city’s residents.