Rogue landlords database
Alongside the consultation on the abolition of Section 21, the Government is asking for views on extending their rogue landlord database. What will this mean for landlords across England, and how can you make your views heard?
What is the rogue landlords database?
The database was launched in April 2018 and provides a list of landlords and property agents who have been given a banning order, been convicted of a banning order offence when they were acting as a residential landlord or property agent, or have received two or more financial penalties for a banning order offence within a period of 12 months whilst operating in the sector.
Its purpose is to support local authorities in enforcement action and prevent ‘rogues’ from moving operations between local authority areas to circumvent the law. Local authorities are responsible for adding entries to the database, and have a duty to include anyone who has been given a banning order.
What is the Government proposing?
In October 2018, the then-Prime Minister announced that the rogue landlords database would be made publicly available, in order that tenants can check whether their landlords and/or agent have a relevant conviction. This followed media reports that the database had not had a single entry since its introduction in April that year.
The Government consultation asks whether the database should be made public, who should have access, what data should be publicly available, and what the criteria should be for entry onto the database.
There are no proposals to change the types of data which are currently entered onto the database – name, address, and offence details.
The consultation is available via the gov.uk website and closes on 12 October 2019.
Isn’t there a publicly available database already?
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, opened up London’s rogue landlords and agents checker to the public in May 2018. The 33 London boroughs submit data to the database, which has a basic level of information for the public and more detailed information for enforcement authorities. There are currently over 400 entries on the public database (including multiple entries for individual landlords and agents).
What kind of offences might be included on the database?
The Government has listed a range of suggested offences which could result in inclusion on the database, including:
Non-compliance with a local authority notice
Failing the fit and proper persons test for a licensed property
Causing or permitting overcrowding
Providing items or furniture which are prohibited under safety regulations
Failure to provide smoke alarms and/or carbon monoxide alarms (if required)
Expulsion from and/or failure to join a mandatory redress scheme (required for agents).
They have also suggested including details where a licence has been refused or revoked, but for this only to be available to local authority users of the database, not the public.
Additionally, they suggest that one civil penalty notice could be sufficient grounds for inclusion.
The consultation asks for comments on this suggested list, and what level of access there should be to offences.
Who would have access to the database?
The Government intends that the database supports tenants and prospective tenants to make informed decisions about who they rent from. They have suggested that there should be a method for enabling access to the database, such as registering an email address or submitting your postcode.
There is also scope for two versions of the database – one available to the public, and the other, more detailed, for enforcement authorities.
What is the NLA’s view?
On the launch of the consultation, Chris Norris, Director of Policy and Practice at the NLA, says:
“It’s all well and good to open the database up to tenants, but if local authorities aren’t using the powers they have to identify and enforce against these landlords, it’s not really going to be of much use to anyone.
“The inability of local authorities to enforce against bad practice is the main issue facing the private rented sector (PRS). Instead of spending time and money on a consultation, the Government would be better off giving that money to local authorities for the sole purpose of tackling criminal landlords.”
How can landlords respond?
The consultation documents are available on the gov.uk website and you can respond to the consultation online or via email to PRSenforcement@communities.gov.uk. The deadline for responses is 12 October 2019.