London Mayor to launch new ‘name and shame’ criminal landlord database
Criminal landlords and letting agents who exploit their tenants will be ‘named and shamed’ on a new online database to protect the two million private renters in the capital, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced yesterday.
The new database, to be built in partnership with London Boroughs and published on the Mayor’s website, will cite criminal landlords and letting agents who have been successfully prosecuted for housing offences. The Mayor believes it will give Londoners greater confidence in renting in the capital, allowing them to check a prospective landlord or letting 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 London-wide 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 been very successful in tackling criminal landlords, prosecuting 1,100 criminal landlords – more than any other local authority in London – and banning 28 of the very worst from operating.
The council’s five-year licensing scheme is due to expire in December and Sadiq Khan has written to the government to support its renewal.
New London Borough Private Rented Sector Partnership established
A new partnership, made up of every borough across London, is intended to improve coordination, joint working and information sharing to drive forward improvements in private rented sector enforcement across the capital. The first meeting of the Partnership was held at City Hall on Tuesday 25 April.
Homes for Londoners Property Portal
Alongside the Mayor’s efforts to improve conditions in the private rented sector, he also today 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.
It will also support boroughs who have established social lettings agencies by offering them the opportunity to advertise their properties.
It will provide information to advise Londoners on their housing options, bringing together all of the affordable home ownership offers for Londoners into one place and allowing housing providers to upload properties to the portal with the required information. It will also allow build-to-rent providers to advertise properties for discounted rent.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq 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.
“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.
“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.
“I fully support the excellent work councils like Newham are doing to target the worst offenders in their borough. I will continue to support them and other boroughs who use licensing schemes effectively to drive up standards in the private rented sector.“
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. I am proud that Newham is responsible for 70 per cent of all criminal landlord prosecutions across London and 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.“
Responding to the announcement, NALS CEO, Isobel Thomson said:
“NALS fully supports any measures that improve the PRS. The criminal landlords and agents database will place a spotlight on the inconsistent approach to housing regulation across London. About 80 per cent of housing prosecutions are taken by just five boroughs, while others take no prosecutions. Councils must up their game to tackle the rogue element of the market.
“We would urge the GLA to consider adding agents who do not display fees or fail to belong to a redress scheme to the database in order to protect consumers.
“It’s vital too that the GLA develop a more consistent approach to property licensing schemes. Every scheme in London has different terms and conditions, criteria and geographical coverage with no consistency in application process or fees. This has to change.“
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