Rogue landlord database to be opened up to tenants
Tenants will now be able to inspect a national blacklist of rogue landlords that was previously closed to the public following a change of direction from the Government.
A database of criminal landlords and letting agents was established in April 2018, but immediately came under fire for not being open to the public.
But following an investigation by The Guardian and ITV News that revealed that not a single name had been entered into the new system since its inception, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May said there would be a change to who can access the blacklist in addition to central and local government.
“Our rogue landlord database has only been in place since April and has been warmly welcomed by councils as an important enforcement tool,” said the PM’s office. “As we have said, only offences committed from April this year can be included, and it can take several months to secure convictions. We are clear that we expect to see entries in the database from the new year. We also intend to make information in the database available to prospective and existing tenants.”
The move was welcomed by David Cox, chief executive of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), who had been fiercely critical of the initial restricted level of access.
Describing the PM’s statement as a ‘triumph for the industry’, Cox added: “Keeping it hidden was a prime example of when the Government didn’t think about the unintended consequences of the policy, which is why we have branded it ‘truly ridiculous’ up until now.
“We’re pleased they have finally listened to what the industry has been saying since it was put into the Housing and Planning Bill nearly three years ago. We hope the database will now fulfil the objective of professionalising the sector, which we all wanted it to.”
Industry welcomes move
The move also pleased Alan Ward, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association, who said: “Local authorities have a vast range of powers available to them to tackle and root out landlords who bring misery to their tenants. The problem is that while Westminster enacts the legislation it is dependent on the political will of councils to enforce it.
“Research by the RLA has shown that few councils are yet to make use of the civil penalties now available to them, while landlords are being faced with increased licensing costs and the criminals ignore the system.”
But shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said the move did not go far enough and that the Labour Party would, “…support of a national licensing scheme, in order to make regulation consistent for all landlords across the country and to stop the rogues from switching local authorities.”
In London, a rogue landlord checker established by mayor Sadiq Khan that is accessible to all Londoners has already had over 1,000 entries.
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