Industry News

Rogue landlords database for London L

andlords and letting agents who exploit their tenants will be ‘named and shamed’ on a new online database

designed to protect two million private renters across London. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced the

measure within 24 hours of a raid on a ‘squalid’ HMO in Harrow where 40 people were said to be sharing a three-bedroom house with just a single toilet and bathroom. The new database is to be built in partnership

with London councils and published on the mayor’s website. It will contain details of criminal landlords and letting agents successfully prosecuted for housing offences and is expected to act as a deterrent to others. Landlord representatives have been quick to welcome the initiative. People wanting to rent a property will be able

to check a prospective landlord or letting agent before moving into a property. They can also report suspected criminal activity. Councils across London will share information

on landlords’ criminal history and provide details of enforcement activity and investigations. The database will be developed initially with information from six councils – Newham, Brent, Camden, Southwark, Kingston and Sutton – with other councils joining after a public launch in the autumn. Their data will be available from early next year.

Raid The mayor made the announcement as he joined a criminal landlord enforcement raid in Newham, carried out under the council’s borough-wide licensing scheme for private rented properties. In 2013, Newham Council was the first local

authority to be granted borough-wide licensing and has prosecuted 1,100 criminal landlords – more than any other local authority in London – as well as banning 28 of the very worst from operating in the borough. The mayor also announced plans for a new

Homes for Londoners property portal on City Hall’s website, which aims to bring together in one place details of affordable homes to buy and rent in the capital. Mayor Khan said “I refuse to stand by as

thousands of Londoners suffer sky-high rents and horrendous living conditions in a city they call home. I have seen first-hand the abysmal conditions that some of London’s private renters are forced to endure as a result of rogue landlords. “I want to be clear that the vast majority of

landlords treat renters well – but a minority are exploiting their tenants and it’s simply unacceptable. This must stop now. “To help renters, I will be working in

partnership with London Boroughs to launch my new ‘name and shame’ database of criminal landlords and letting agents to help Londoners before they rent a property, and to deter dishonest landlords and agents from operating.”

The mayor made the announcement as he joined a criminal landlord enforcement raid in Newham, carried out under the council’s borough-wide licensing scheme for private rented properties.

Pioneer Sir Robin Wales, mayor of Newham, said “Newham has pioneered the fight against rogue landlords and were the first authority to introduce borough-wide licensing to protect vulnerable tenants. “We are determined to continue to tackle

the scandal of sub-standard and dangerous accommodation, illegal evictions and extortionate rent rises. We have shown that with political will, local knowledge, and robust enforcement we can safeguard residents and drive criminal landlords out of business. “The mayor of London’s new database,

alongside our licensing scheme, will play a key role in helping to improve the sector. We look forward to working with him, and other London boroughs to make the capital a no-go area for criminal landlords.” Seb Klier, London campaigns manager

at Generation Rent, said “For renters to get a better deal in London, it’s vital that we have a London-wide approach to dealing with rogue landlords, which is why the mayor’s ‘name and shame’ database is so important. “At the moment, renters sign a tenancy with

no information about whether their landlord has a good record in the market. This new initiative will empower renters by allowing them to check if a landlord has committed a recent housing offence, and it will put the capital’s worst offenders on red alert, letting them know that if they mistreat their tenants, they will be exposed.”

Stress Support for the new measures has come from two key players who represent private landlords. Richard Lambert, chief executive officer at the National Landlords Association, said “The mayor’s ‘name and shame’ online database brings information on criminal landlords and agents together to make it much easier for renters to find and avoid landlords anyone who has been prosecuted for housing related crimes. “Importantly, it is also the first time renters

have had a central online tool that should take some of the stress out of reporting potentially criminal housing conditions to their local authority.” David Cox, ARLA Propertymark chief

executive, also welcomed the mayor’s announcement. “We have campaigned for the Government’s database of banned letting agents to be publicly available as, with no public access to the database, how will landlords or tenants know if they are using a banned agent? “This online database overcomes that

problem and means tenants and landlords in London can rent with the confidence of knowing their agent has not committed any offences.” The database will also be accessible to local

authority enforcement teams and the GLA. This part of the database will contain more detailed history of enforcement activity taken against a landlord or agent to support joint working across London. It will also be developed to ensure the automated deletion of a landlord record on the system once a conviction has reached its expiry date. | HMM July 2017 | 7

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