The government has issued guidance on when and under what circumstances local authorities in England may make an entry on the ‘rogue’ landlord or agent database.
The database was established following the introduction of the Housing and Planning Act 2016. The database is designed to help local authorities track agents and landlords that have been convicted of a banning order offence or received 2 financial penalties in respect of a banning order offence within a 12-month period.
Prior to making an entry on the database the local authority will notify the relevant person. But when deciding to make the entry the local authority will have regard to:
- Severity of offence, the more severe the offence the more justification there is for the entry;
- Mitigating factors, where the offence is less serious the local authority may consider not making an entry on the database if there are mitigating circumstances. Mitigating circumstances can include personal issues such as health problems and bereavement;
- Culpability and serial offending, a lesser one-time offence may not be entered on the database. However, serial offenders will find it difficult to persuade a local authority not to make an entry;
- Deterring the offender from repeating the offence, where an agent or landlord is on the database they could be deterred from committing other offences knowing that their details are on the database and simply moving areas to continue the bad behaviour will not help their situation;
- Deterring others from committing similar offences, knowing of the existence of the database may deter landlords and agents from committing banning order offences in the first place.
Local authorities are permitted to make an entry on the database for a minimum period of 2 years. At present there is no maximum period for the entry on the database however, one hopes that local authorities will exercise reasonable judgement in this regard. Where agents or landlords object to an entry on the database they can write to the local authority and appeal. Should the local authority decide to proceed with the entry in any event the landlord or agent may take the matter to the First Tier Tribunal.
This database is designed to tackle ‘rogue’ landlords and agents and certainly for those committing a serious offence it could be a benefit to the market as a whole. However, how decisions are made in respect of those who make an honest mistake or due to personal circumstances may highlight inconsistencies with the whole process due to the lack of clear guidance, despite this publication.