Liverpool council wants to find a way to force student landlords to pay business rates
Plans to ensure student landlords “pay their fair share” towards the cost of local services have been unanimously approved by councillors.
The meeting at Liverpool town hall saw councillors across the chamber agree on plans to look at taxing student landlords.
The motion had been put forward by councillors Nick Small and Laura Robertson-Collins followed concerns that student landlords are “making lots of money” but not paying a penny towards local services.
The authority wants to find a way to force student landlords to pay business rates.
Cllr Small said the council currently receive money from central government which effectively compensates for students not paying council tax on almost 9,000 homes – but this is being withdrawn by Westminster.
Liverpool Guild of Students, which represents Liverpool University students, had been critical of the proposal claiming it would simply push landlords to bump up rents.
A statement by the Guild of Students said “the motion has been tabled at a time when there are no students in the city to dispute the proposals, suggesting there is an attempt to do this behind closed doors”.
The statement added: “While the motion implies the extra charges will be picked up by Landlords, we believe they will ultimately be passed onto you, the students, in the form of a rent increase – and at a time when maintenance grants have been cut and fees and the cost of living is going up, it is the poorest students who will suffer as a result.
“This may also lead to landlords reducing their repairs budget to make up the shortfall, which could then lead to poorer student accommodation.”
However, opposition parties were reassured by changes to the notice of motion to consult more widely on the proposals.
Both Lib Dem and Green parties agreed to drop changes to the proposals after Labour made amendments to wording of the motion.
Changes include highlighting that “students make a positive contribution to the city” and a promise to establish a working group with university, landlord and student union representatives.
They say they will try to find ways to ensure the increased costs are not passed on to students.
The council also agreed to ask Mayor Joe Anderson to write to government ministers including the chancellor, as well as MPs, to see if changes could be brought in.
Deputy mayor Cllr Anne O’Byrne said: “Residents pay council tax, businesses pay business rates, and when they can’t afford it there are mechanisms for them to get relief.
“It’s a straightforward system, except for some anomalies.”
She said one of these exceptions is student landlords and added: “These are businesses who rely on public services like others.”
She mentioned bin collections, roads, streetlights, police and fire services, among others, are used but not paid for.