Rogue landlord database reform

The government has commenced a consultation on the database of rogue landlords and property agents. The consultation will seek views on who has access to the database and whether the scope of offences included on the database should be expanded.

The database of rogue landlords and property agents was introduced as part of the Housing and Planning Act 2016. The database came into force in April 2018 and is a tool to enable local authorities to take enforcement action against landlords and agents who flout the law or neglect their responsibilities. The database makes it possible for local authorities to share information about landlords and agents, especially where they operate across local authority boundaries.

A local authority must make an entry onto the database where a landlord or agent has received a banning order. They may also choose to make an entry where a landlord or agent has been prosecuted for one of a lot of specified offences or received 2 or more civil penalties for offences from that same list within a 12 month period. Access to the database is currently limited to local authorities, except in very limited circumstances where information can be disclosed in anonymised form.

However, in October 2018 the then Prime Minister committed to opening access to the database on a more public basis, with a view to making it useful not only to local authorities but also tenants. This consultation therefore seeks views on widening access and also expanding the scope of offences and infractions which could lead to an entry on the database.

The current list of offences which could lead to an entry on the database include:

  1. Violence for securing entry
  2. Gas safety offences
  3. Failing to comply with the Right to Rent
  4. Specific violent and sexual offences
  5. Offences of harassment and stalking
  6. Theft, burglary, blackmail and handling stolen goods
  7. Fire safety offences

The consultation proposes adding further offences and even some things which are not offences such as:

  1. Failing to comply with a notice requesting a document/information in relation to a licensed property
  2. Failing to comply with notice requiring action in the removal or prevention of rats and mice.
  3. Causing or permitting overcrowding
  4. Failure to provide smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms where relevant
  5. Being served with an improvement notice
  6. A landlord or agent being issued with a works in default notice
  7. Failing the fit and proper person test
  8. Charging tenants a prohibited fee

The possibility of expanding access and the longer list of offences will no doubt be welcomed by local authorities and tenants. The proposed list of offences is clearly targeted at issues around Houses in Multiple Occupation and the Tenant Fees Act so an expansion is no doubt inevitable and it is possible that this trajectory will continue as and when further legislation is introduced.

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