Letting agents who have broken the law are set to be ‘named and shamed’ by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, on a new public database which is being introduced with the support of the Association of Residential Letting Agents.
The new database, to be built in partnership with bough councils across Londonand published on the Mayor’s website, will cite criminal landlords and letting agents who have been successfully prosecuted for housing offences.
Khan says it will give Londoners greater confidence when renting, allowing them to check a prospective landlord or agent before moving into a property, and acting as a deterrent to the minority of landlords and agents who behave dishonestly.
Due to launch in the autumn, the database will enable councils across London easily to share information on landlords’ criminal history and provide details of enforcement activity and investigations. As part of this new initiative, Londoners will be able to search the online database and report suspected criminal landlords or letting agents through London.gov.uk.
The ‘name and shame’ database will be developed in the coming months with information from six councils – Newham, Brent, Camden, Southwark, Kingston and Sutton – with other boroughs across London set to join following its public launch in the autumn.
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 so far prosecuted 1,100 criminal landlords – more than any other local authority in London - and banned 28 from operating. The council’s five-year licensing scheme is due to expire in December, and Khan has written to the government to support its renewal.
The London Mayor has also announced plans for a new Homes for Londoners property portal on City Hall’s website, which aims to bring together in one place affordable homes to buy and rent in the capital.
“I refuse to stand by as thousands of Londoners suffer sky-high rents and horrendous living conditions in a city they call home. Today 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” says Khan.
David Cox, ARLA Propertymark chief executive, says he welcomes the move. “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 idea has also been backed by Richard Lambert, chief executive of the National Landlords Association, who says: “It’s 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.”