"Empty" database of rogue landlords blasted as "ridiculous"
Not a single name has been added to a government database of rogue landlords, more than six months after the system started, a newspaper probe has found.
And even when some are added, the public will not be able to find out, according to Freedom of Information (FoI) requests filed by the Guardian newspaper and ITV News.
The request found that by the end of August the database was empty and, when details of rogue landlords are eventually entered, they will only be accessible to central and local government, unless the rules are changed.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said the reasons behind keeping the database’s contents secret were also secret, adding: “It is not in the public interest to disclose this information at this time.”
When a third request was made to ask whether any names had been added in September and October, the MHCLG again refused to answer, saying yet another FoI request would be necessary, with the usual 20 days for them to provide a response.
The Guardian and ITV News has since confirmed independently that the database remains empty.
David Cox, chief executive of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), said: “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.”
An MHCLG spokesperson said: “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.”
They added: “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.”
The rogue landlord database records landlords and agents that are subject to a banning order or have committed a banning order offence, and was introduced in April.
Only local authorities can make entries to the database, and they will then be able to share this information with each other as part of Government plans to drive criminal landlords out of the sector.