Tomorrow brings the enforcement of banning orders for rogue landlords and letting agents, and the introduction of a database logging their misdemeanours.
Committing an offence such as unlawful eviction and harassment of a tenant, or failing to comply with an improvement notice are examples of actions that could lead to a landlord receiving a banning order. A full list can be viewed on the legislation.gov website.
A ban could last for as a year or longer, sometimes indefinitely.
Those who have received a banning order will find it more difficult to sweep such information under the carpet with the added introduction of the database.
This database was originally announced as part of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, and is now finally coming into effect. It will provide information on any landlord or letting agent who has been served a banning order or has been convicted of a banning order offence.
Mayor Sadiq Khan has already put a similar database into action in London. Their Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker was the first such database in the country, and has been used to ‘name and shame’ any landlords and letting agents who have been successfully prosecuted or have faced civil enforcement action for housing offences. This database is accessible to all renters, allowing them the opportunity to do a background check before signing any rental agreements.
Banning Orders and Database for Rogue Landlords and Letting Agents are on the Horizon
However, the database that will be put into place as part of changes suggested by the Housing and Planning Act 2016 will not be publicly available. It will only be accessible by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and local authorities. It seems to be that this database will be more for the use of local authorities, allowing them to keep track of rogue landlords and letting agents.
David Cox, Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark, has commented: “When this legislation was first announced, we were wildly supportive – anything which will help eradicate bad letting agents and landlords has our full support.
“However, the outcome is disappointing. The database won’t be public, which means no one will be able to see it and therefore letting agents and landlords who are on the list can continue operating with impunity. This appears to be a pointless exercise; if the list were made public – like the equivalent for estate agents – rogue agents and landlords would leave the market for good.”
If public databases such as the one in London prove to be effective, then perhaps such a method will spread further across the country. With renters being required to provide a personal reference as part of the process of applying for a tenancy, could it be considered only fair that landlords and letting agents are also laid bare for all to see?
Along with the banning orders and database, the Housing and Planning Act 2016 has introduced other suggestions. Since April 2017, a rogue landlord may now receive civil penalties of up to £30,000. There is also now an extension of Rent Repayment Orders to cover illegal eviction, breach of a banning order or failure to comply with a statutory notice.