A new database that names and shames rogue landlords and lettings agents has been launched in London. The city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, claims that bad landlords and agents will now have nowhere to hide.
The Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker apparently will list landlords and lettings agents who have been successfully prosecuted or who have faced civil enforcement action for housing offences.
Sadiq Khan said that he believes the database, published on the City Hall website, will give Londoners greater confidence in renting a home by allowing them to check a prospective landlord or letting agent, as well as acting as a clear deterrent to the minority of landlords and letting agents who behave dishonestly.
I don’t agree. This strikes me as a very lazy way of trying to protect London renters from abuse by rogue landlords and agents. For a start, not many abuses ever result in prosecutions or civil enforcement action so only the very worst offenders will find themselves on the database (eventually).
And in any event, not all London boroughs are participating yet. The mayor has no power to require local councils to submit their data. Currently Brent, Camden, Greenwich, Islington, Kingston, Newham, Southwark, Sutton, Waltham Forest, Westminster have done so. However, Barking and Dagenham, Croydon, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Lewisham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets have apparently agreed to submit records in the new year.
Others London boroughs may follow but I suspect this initiative will do little or nothing to help everyday renters who, for example, can’t get their landlord to carry out essential repairs to their home – nor will it stop agents from demanding unreasonable “admin fees” for new tenancies or renewals.
In my opinion, these are some of the measures that are needed on top of the long, still awaited Tenant Fee Ban:
- Clear laws that require landlords to put and keep properties (including all appliances, fittings, equipment, furniture and services within the home) in good repair.
- They should be required to carry out urgent repairs immediately and other repairs within a reasonable time frame.
- Tenants should be legally empowered to carry out needed repairs themselves and deduct the costs from the rent where landlords have failed to do repairs after reasonable notice
- Letting and managing agents should be legally required to report defaulting landlords to Local Authorities
- Local Authorities should provide easy ways for tenants to report defaulting landlords and should be required to take effective enforcement action.
- These strong laws should come with a tough enforcement machinery built in to them.
It’s high time that we got on with putting in place genuine protections and genuine solutions for tenants who are being abused by landlords and agents.
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