Databases introduced to 'name & shame' rogue landlords
Kate Faulkner, independent property expert
New legislation across England from 6th April 2018
In April, the penalties finally become more severe for criminal landlords and letting agents. As announced in the Housing and Planning Act 2016, banning orders will come into force for those found to be in breach of certain regulations, including:
- Illegally evicting or harassing a tenant
- Failing to comply with improvement notice/prohibition order
- Failing to adhere to HMO rules or management regulations
- Providing false or misleading information
- Failing to adhere to an overcrowding notice
This means that any person or lettings business convicted of an offence under the Act will be given a 'banning order' and barred from operating in the industry, so they won't be able to earn income from lettings or work as part of managing agents, potentially indefinitely.
Their details will also be entered on a new 'rogues' register of blacklisted landlords and agents, held by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
Currently, only local authorities and central government will have access to the register, which will be updated by local authorities as their officers enforce legislation. This means tenants and landlords will not be able to search the register, although, given that a public database is already available for some councils in Greater London, that may well be introduced for the whole country in the future.
How the database will work
In London, this sort of database has already been in operation for several months. On 19th December last year, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launched a database specifically for the capital, which 'names and shames' landlords and agents that have been prosecuted or fined for breaching housing law.
There are three elements to the checker:
1. A public database. It is freely available to view online and allows private tenants to check out a landlord or agent before deciding whether to rent from them.
Landlords will be named if they have received:
- A criminal conviction
- A civil penalty
- An enforcement notice from the London Fire Brigade
Agents will be named if they have:
- Been expelled from a Redress Scheme
- Received a civil penalty from Trading Standards
2. A private database for local authorities and the London Fire Brigade to share more detailed information about offences.
3. A reporting tool that can be used by tenants and other Londoners to report rogue activity.
The database currently has records from ten boroughs: Brent, Camden, Greenwich, Islington, Kingston, Newham, Southwark, Sutton, Waltham Forest and Westminster. The Mayor's office is working to bring all other London boroughs on board as soon as possible, with the next likely to include Croydon, Tower Hamlets and Barking & Dagenham.
What information can the public see?
The public database shows:
- Landlords and agents' full names
- The street name and first four post code digits of the landlord's home address (to help renters distinguish between landlords with the same name)
- The offence and what type of enforcement action was taken against them
- What fine (if any) they received
- Who undertook the enforcement (i.e. London borough, London Fire Brigade, redress scheme)
- The address of the rental property where the offence took place
And it's not just London that is actively naming and shaming failing landlords. Oxford City Council has been doing it for some years and there are numerous stories in the press - online and in print – about landlords that have been fined or prosecuted for a range of misdemeanours.
These penalties are in addition to the maximum civil penalty of £30,000 that a local authority can impose on landlords who break the law, meaning the consequences of being prosecuted could be devastating to you, both professionally and financially.
The rest of the UK
While there are currently no plans for 'rogue' databases in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are registration and licensing schemes in place, with penalties for those landlords and agents who don't comply.
Scotland: All landlords must register details about themselves and their properties with the local council and the register can be searched by the public. By 1st October 2018, all agents must have signed up to the Letting Agent Code of Practice, requiring them to have qualifications and training, belong to a CMP scheme and hold professional indemnity insurance.
Wales: Landlords must be registered with Rent Smart Wales and anyone who wants to manage a property – landlord or agent – must be licensed. Again, the register is available to the public.
Northern Ireland: Landlords must provide information on themselves and their properties to The Landlord Registration Scheme.
Interested in hearing more? Read our article to see how you can make sure you don't appear on any of these databases.
Kate Faulkner is one of the leading, independent property experts in the UK and regularly features in major newspapers; on BBC, ITV and regularly co-hosts the Property Show on LBC.