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Consultation starts on renewing and extending selective licensing regime

Landlords providing much-needed private rented accommodation in part of Merseyside are to fall under an expanded  licensing regime. 

Wirral councillors have voted to continue the Selective Licensing scheme in two existing areas and introduce it for private sector landlords in two further areas, from 2024 until 2029.

The council claims the scheme is targeted at areas where there is a higher-than-average number of private rented properties available, a higher turnover of tenants and poorer property conditions.


The four areas affected are Birkenhead West, Seacombe St Pauls, Bidston and St James West, and Egremont North. The latter two areas are where the new schemes are proposed, the first two have already been subject to Selective Licensing since 2019.

As Selective Licensing schemes have a maximum duration of five years, the council has to make a case for extending an existing scheme – or introducing new ones – and its recent consultation with residents, tenants and landlords is part of that process. 

The consultation saw 544 completed questionnaires received, the majority being through the council’s online “Have your say” consultation portal, and the majority - 84.9 per cent of respondents - either strongly agreed or agreed with selective licensing proposals.

Wirral first introduced Selective Licensing in 2015 covering four small parts of the borough. That initial programme ran until 2020 and resulted in 57 individual prosecutions for landlords who failed to get a licence or other Housing Act 2004 offences.

So far under the second scheme (2019-24), there have been 18 prosecutions and one Landlord Banning Order confirmed after an appeal. 

However, the council claims those numbers – and those for the start of the third scheme (2020-25) – were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant no inspections could be carried out between March 2020 and September 2021.

A spokesperson for the council says: “We know the majority of landlords take their responsibilities seriously and this is about ensuring that all of them do so. 

“Selective Licensing is about making sure people live in decent homes and making sure others don’t profit from renting out homes which are unacceptable and not fit for purpose.

“The use of Selective Licensing in these targeted areas will enable us to continue to work in partnership with landlords to ensure minimum standards are met.  It will also help us tackle those rogue landlords and ensure tenants in Wirral live in decent homes – as they should.”

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