Rogue landlords database is “pointless” unless council have more enforcement powers
Campaigners have welcomed government plans to open up its rogue landlord database to prospective tenants, as part of proposals to give greater protection to renters.
A package of reforms published for consultation includes proposals to stop no-fault evictions, which the charity Shelter has described as “far and away the most important thing the government can do” to help renters.
The communities secretary, James Brokenshire, announced plans on Sunday to allow public access to the register of the worst landlords, which is currently open only to local authorities.
However, introducing such a database without better enforcement would be a pointless exercise, according to the National Landlords Association (NLA).
The government was slammed earlier this year when it was revealed that any listings on the database would be kept secret from prospective tenants.
Only local authorities are given the information, to enable them to target illegal landlords and “name and shame” those failing to provide safe and decent homes.
But James Brokenshire, the communities secretary, has vowed to introduce the change, stating that is “right that we unlock this crucial information for new and prospective tenants”.
Brokenshire announced a 12-week consultation on opening up the database.
The Government will also consider widening the list of offences that will warrant blacklisting on the database, such as breaching the new Tenant Fees Act.
A landlord can currently be listed for 14 “banning order” offences, from unlawful eviction and harassment to licensing breaches, or for two fines for housing offences in the past year.
But a freedom of information response three months ago revealed not a single banning order had been issued – and that just four names were on the database.
Chris Norris, director of policy and practice at the NLA, said: “It’s all well and good to open the database up to tenants, but if local authorities aren’t using the powers they have to identify and enforce against these landlords, it’s not really going to be of much use to anyone.
“The inability of local authorities to enforce against bad practice is the main issue facing the private rented sector (PRS).
“Instead of spending time and money on a consultation, the government would be better off giving that money to local authorities for the sole purpose of tackling criminal landlords.”