Rogue landlord checker
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has launched the country's first 'name and shame' database of rogue landlords. The Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker is an online database available to the public. It contains information from 10 London boroughs with more coming on stream in the coming weeks.
The database has been set up so tenants can have greater confidence when renting a home from a private landlord. And to serve as a deterrent to wayward landlords.
The database contains records of prosecutions and civil actions for housing offences. Currently, the database covers around 25% of private renters in London. The Mayor wants all London councils to contribute to the database to cover the entire city. However, he has no powers to compel this.
Why create the database?
The Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker was a promise made in the current Mayor's election manifesto. The Mayor said: "The housing market in London is difficult enough for Londoners to navigate, without those landlords and letting agents who behave unscrupulously leaving tenants living in appalling conditions, despite often paying sky-high rents.
"I promised to do everything within my powers to help Londoners facing this problem - I will not stand by while they are exploited.
"Many landlords and agents across London offer a great service – but sadly some don’t. My new database is about empowering Londoners to make informed choices about where they rent, and sending rogue operators a clear message: you have nowhere to hide."
What information is in the Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker?
There are three parts to the database. Though not all will be available to the public.
- The main database of landlords and agents prosecuted or fined for housing offences. It will also list those banned from letting agent redress schemes. It is this part of the database which is viewable by the public. These records will usually be available for 12 months.
- Another section of the database allows local authorities and London Fire Brigade to share information about landlords and agents.
- The final section of the Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker is a reporting tool. Tenants can use the tool to report landlord behaviour.
Who compiles the register?
The Greater London Authority developed the database. It contains information supplied by borough councils as well as the London Fire Brigade and agents redress schemes.
London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Dan Daly, said: "From overcrowded housing to poor escape routes and badly maintained fire doors, our fire inspectors regularly find homes that are just too dangerous to live in.
"Making it easier for tenants to find out if a potential landlord has flouted fire safety rules will act as a deterrent for the small number of dishonest landlords who pose a large risk to their tenants."
What information will tenants be able to see?
A tenant who searches the register will be able to see:
- The full name of landlord or agent.
- Partial home address of the landlord.
- The offence they committed.
- The action taken against them including any fines.
- Which authority took the enforcement action.
- The address of the property.
The London scheme is the first of its kind in the UK. Though central government have previously proposed a national register. However, this has yet to materialise.
But the proposed government database will only be available to local authorities. Something which the London Mayor strongly disagrees with. Sadiq Khan said: "(The government) should stop dragging their feet on the creation of the compulsory national database they promised to set-up.
"Before Ministers have even laid the regulations for their database, we’ve planned, built and launched ours – and unlike the Government’s plans, we have made our database accessible to the public."
However, the government have now announced draft proposals to licence some landlords. But the plans do not include a publicly accessible database.
Should landlords be worried?
The only thing which may concern reputable landlords is the reporting tool. It is a worry that tenants could use this tool in a vindictive and inappropriate manner. However, the tenant's comments won't appear in the database though they may lead to an investigation by the authorities.
The launch of the database will not affect the vast majority of landlords. Or agents for that matter. It will only be bad news for the small minority who bring the profession into disrepute.
In fact, the Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker could be good news for the many reputable landlords in London. Prospective tenants will be reassured by being able to check the database and will be even keener to rent from those landlords whose names don't appear in the register.
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