The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, has launched the Greater London Authority’s (GLA’s) Rogue Landlord and Agent checker. The database names landlords and agents that have successfully been convicted of a housing offence and includes details of the type of offence and level of fine.
The GLA argues that the database will provide greater confidence to tenants looking to rent in London. It is hoped that the database will enabling them to check the details of any prospective landlord or agent, with a view to ultimately deterring rogue landlords and agents from operating in London.
The database is now available to the public with specific criminal convictions available for 12 months in line with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. However, the data is available to local authorities for far longer, up to ten years. Prior to any publication Landlords and agents are warned and permitted to make representations with a view to prevent the publication going live.
The 10 borough councils contributing to the website to date are Brent, Camden, Greenwich, Islington, Kingston, Newham, Southwark, Sutton, Waltham Forest, and Westminster.
A further 8 London boroughs will be contributing in the coming weeks, they are Barking and Dagenham, Croydon, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Lewisham, Redbridge, and Tower Hamlets. The London Fire Service is also contributing and the three agent redress schemes will also be contributing names of agents they have dismissed from their schemes.
In addition to the publication of convictions, the database will also allow tenants to report landlords and agents for bad practice, such as refusing to make repairs, deposit not protected or unfairly withheld. Those reports will be passed to local authorities to investigate further.
Whether this database will be effective or not will not be known for some time. It will depend to a large degree on whether tenants are aware of it and how they make use of the data. In the meantime many landlords and agents will be concerned with tenants having the power to report them especially if such action is retaliatory. However, those reports are no different from reports to local authorities which tenants can already make. In practice many reports to local authorities are not dealt with and a new reporting route is only as effective as the level of funding and will power that local authorities apply to enforcement.