Rogue landlord database remains empty

A Freedom of Information Act has uncovered that the government’s central rogue landlord list, billed as the go-to document in the crack-down against rotten apples in the sector, has yet to chalk up one single name.

The list was designed to provide local authorities with a comprehensive list of landlords who were flaunting the rules, allowing councils to share information between them and clamp down on offenders, however an investigation, led by The Guardian and ITV News, has proved that it’s not working quite as hoped.

When the scheme was introduced in April, councils were encouraged to input details of any rogue landlord who received a banning order, was convicted of a banning order offence or has received two financial penalties for housing offences in the past year.

However, a Freedom of Information (FoI) request submitted by the media outlets highlighted that the database was entirely empty in October – a stark comparison to the London-database run by the Mayor of London’s office. Which would either suggest that London landlords are letting the side down, or the national scheme isn’t being quite as well utilised…

As well as being empty, the central database has another major difference to its London counterpart – it’s not available for public view – and intends to stay that way according to a statement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Following a further FoI, the MHCLG stated that it ‘is not in the public interest to disclose this information at this time.’ The London database provides details of prosecutions of rogue landlords and letting agencies across all of the London boroughs for a full year after the conviction date.

It’s not just the public who are missing out. There is concern from industry bodies about how this may impact their work with landlords in the PRS.

This is a truly ridiculous piece of legislation. There are no legal reasons for this database being kept secret. How on earth is a tenant supposed to know if a landlord has been banned? Also, professional bodies like ours may inadvertently endorse a banned landlord or letting agent by accepting them as a member.

David Cox, Chief Executive of the Association of Residential Letting Agents

It doesn’t seem that the public or industry bodies are missing much though. The MHCLG don’t anticipate any entries until 2019…

Only offences committed from April this year can be included and it can take a number of months to secure convictions. We expect to see entries in the database increasing in the new year. Councils have welcomed the database as an important tool to help them crack down on the minority of landlords who rent out unsafe and substandard accommodation.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson

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