Rogue landlords ‘named and shamed’

// HA News

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has hailed a major milestone in his efforts to ‘name and shame’ the capital’s unscrupulous landlords and letting agents with all 33 London local authorities signing up to his online database.

This comes as the Mayor also published his London Housing Strategy, which sets out his approach to tackling London’s housing crisis. The strategy will be considered by the London Assembly at its next meeting.

Among the entries now included on the Mayor’s Rogue Landlords and Letting Agents Checker is a high street estate agent chain which was fined a record £35,000 following a prosecution brought by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets1 after it failed to provide the council with the correct documentation – including gas and fire safety – for a rental property in Whitechapel.

Working voluntarily in partnership with the Mayor, the 32 boroughs and the City of London have committed to submitting records of successful prosecutions and fines to the Checker, a free online tool which allows Londoners to check if the landlord or letting agent of a rental property has been convicted of any housing offences.

Ten boroughs have already submitted their records, and the remaining boroughs’ records will now be uploaded to the database. In addition, the Checker has a simple ‘report a rogue’ tool, giving renters a central portal to make a complaint about a landlord or agent for the first time.

The Mayor believes the database, published on the City Hall website, will give Londoners greater confidence in renting a home, as well as acting as a clear deterrent to the small minority of landlords and letting agents who behave dishonestly.

Among the records already available is a case involving a residential landlord which was fined a record £150,000 after being prosecuted by London Fire Brigade2 in May 2017, following a major fire at a block of flats it owned in Westminster in 2011. The fire was so serious 13 people had to be evacuated and the subsequent investigation found a string of fire safety breaches.

The Checker – the first of its kind in the country – was launched last December with the support of 10 boroughs, fulfilling one of the Mayor’s manifesto commitments and four months in advance of the Government’s National Rogue Landlord Database.

Compared with the Mayor’s Checker, the Government database contains a very limited range of offences and it is available only to local authorities – and, unlike the Checker, it cannot be accessed by members of the public.

The Checker forms a key part of the Mayor’s approach to helping private renters in his London Housing Strategy. The strategy also includes policies to help social tenants and leaseholders, with a further call on the Government to appoint an independent Commissioner for Social Housing Residents, who would act as a watchdog and ensure the voices of those living in social housing are heard at a national level.

This proposal was in the Mayor's draft strategy and has been strengthened as a result of Londoners’ views from the consultation process, through which a number of respondents called for this Commissioner to be a social housing resident themselves.

The document also:

  • outlines plans to spend the additional £1.67 billion the Mayor negotiated with Government to deliver more genuinely affordable homes by 2022 – with the majority being for homes based on social rent levels
  • sets out the Mayor’s intention to require the use of resident ballots in estate regeneration schemes which want Mayoral funding where existing affordable homes are being demolished
  • commits to working with community-led housing organisations to identify a pipeline of schemes by 2021 which could deliver at least 1,000 new homes

The strategy is being published following a successful public consultation, to which more than 2,000 people responded – more than any statutory housing strategy in the history of the London mayoralty.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said “When I launched the Checker I made it clear unscrupulous landlords and agents would have nowhere to hide. Now, with all local authorities signed up, we have reached an important milestone in protecting London’s renters.

“The rental market in the capital is difficult enough to navigate without a small minority of rogue operators exploiting their tenants. This tool will empower Londoners to make an informed choice about where to live.

“I’m extremely grateful for the support of all the local authorities and other bodies which have signed up to contribute their records to the database. I’m confident this will be a major step in tackling unscrupulous and illegal practices in the rented sector.

“I’m also proud to today publish my London Housing Strategy, in which I once again call on the Government to appoint a Commissioner for Social Housing Residents. In line with the views of many Londoners, I believe this role should be fulfilled by someone who is a social housing resident themselves.”

Director of the Residential Landlords Association, Carrie Kus, said “We all want to see criminal landlords rooted out of the rental market completely.

“It is good news therefore that the Mayor’s database of rogue landlords is now in operation across the whole of London. This will give tenants the support they need to properly distinguish between the majority of law-abiding and decent landlords and those landlords who bring the sector into disrepute.”

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