Landlords and letting agents who exploit their tenants in London will be named and shamed on a new online database that will be published on the Mayor’s website.
The new database will be built in partnership with London Boroughs and cite criminal landlords and letting agents who have been successfully prosecuted for housing offences.
The Mayor Sadiq Khan said that he believes it will give Londoners greater confidence in renting in the capital, allowing them to check a prospective landlord or letting agent before moving into a property, and acting as a deterrent to the minority of landlords and agents who behave dishonestly.
Due to launch in the autumn, the database will enable councils across London to easily share information on landlords’ criminal history and provide details of enforcement activity and investigations.
Also, Londoners will be able to search the online database and report suspected criminal landlords or letting agents through London.gov.uk.
The ‘name and shame’ database will be developed in the coming months with information from Newham, Brent, Camden, Southwark, Kingston and Sutton initially and other boroughs across London set to join following its public launch in the autumn.
The Mayor made the announcement as he joined a criminal landlord enforcement raid in Newham, carried out under the council’s borough wide licensing scheme for private rented properties. In 2013, Newham Council was the first local authority to be granted borough wide licensing.
Newham has been very successful in tackling criminal landlords, prosecuting 1,100 criminal landlords, more than any other local authority in London, and banning 28 of the very worst from operating. The council’s five year licensing scheme is due to expire in December, and Khan has written to the Government to support its renewal.
Alongside the Mayor’s efforts to improve conditions in the private rented sector, he also announced plans for a new Homes for Londoners property portal on City Hall’s website, which aims to bring together in one place affordable homes to buy and rent in the capital.
‘I refuse to stand by as thousands of Londoners suffer sky high rents and horrendous living conditions in a city they call home. I have seen first-hand the abysmal conditions that some of London’s private renters are forced to endure as a result of rogue landlords,’ said Khan.
‘I want to be clear that the vast majority of landlords treat renters well but a minority are exploiting their tenants and it’s simply unacceptable. This must stop now. To help renters, I will be working in partnership with London Boroughs to launch my new name and shame database of criminal landlords and letting agents to help Londoners before they rent a property, and to deter dishonest landlords and agents from operating,’ he explained.
‘I fully support the excellent work councils like Newham are doing to target the worst offenders in their borough. I will continue to support them and other boroughs who use licensing schemes effectively to drive up standards in the private rented sector,’ he added.
Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said he is proud that the borough is responsible for 70% of all criminal landlord prosecutions across London and the council is determined to continue to tackle the scandal of sub-standard and dangerous accommodation, illegal evictions and extortionate rent rises.
‘We have shown that with political will, local knowledge, and robust enforcement we can safeguard residents and drive criminal landlords out of business. The Mayor of London’s new database, alongside our licensing scheme, will play a key role in helping to improve the sector,’ he pointed out.
Richard Lambert, chief executive officer of the National Landlords Association, said that it is the first time renters have had a central online tool that should take some of the stress out of reporting potentially criminal housing conditions to their local authority.
‘The Mayor’s name and shame online database brings information on criminal landlords and agents together to make it much easier for renters to find and avoid landlords anyone who has been prosecuted for housing related crimes,’ he added.
The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) is also backing the scheme. ‘We have campaigned for the Government’s database of banned letting agents to be publicly available as, with no public access to the database, how will landlords or tenants know if they are using a banned agent?’ he said.
‘This online database overcomes that problem and means tenants and landlords in London can rent with the confidence of knowing their agent has not committed any offences,’ he added.