The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has vowed to crackdown on criminal landlords by ensuring that they are ‘named and shamed’ on a new online database.
The move is designed to protect the two million or so people living in the private rented sector in the capital, the mayor said in a statement yesterday.
The new online database will list landlords and letting agents who have been prosecuted for housing offences, enabling renters to check up on their future, or existing, landlord.
The new platform, which is set to launch in the autumn, will initially obtain information from six councils, including Newham, Brent, Camden, Southwark, Kingston and Sutton, with other London boroughs set to sign up to the initiative once it has been launched.
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 in London to be granted borough-wide licensing and has successfully prosecuted 1,100 rogue landlords - more than any other local authority in the city.
Sir Robin Wales, mayor of Newham, said: “Newham has pioneered the fight against rogue landlords and were the first authority to introduce borough-wide licensing to protect vulnerable tenants.
“I am proud that Newham is responsible for 70% of all criminal landlord prosecutions across London and we are determined to continue to tackle the scandal of substandard and dangerous accommodation, illegal evictions and extortionate rent rises.”
In addition to Khan’s efforts to improve conditions in the private rented sector, he also yesterday announced the launch of a property portal on City Hall’s website, which will advertise affordable homes on the rental and sales market in the capital.
The mayor of London said: “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. 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.
“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.”
The mayor’s announcement of the ‘name and shame’ criminal landlord database has been welcomed by various trade bodies and property professionals, including the National Landlords Association (NLA).
Richard Lambert, chief executive officer, NLA, said: “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.
“Importantly, it is also 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.”
David Cox, ARLA Propertymark’s chief executive, concurred: “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?
“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.”
However, the mayor’s landlord database will do little to root out the crooks, according to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).
RLA policy director, David Smith, commented: “Criminal landlords have no place in the private rented market, but another database is not the answer.
“Such lists do nothing to help find criminal landlords in the first place. After all, they are hardly likely to come forward to register to go on it.
“Rather than duplicating what the government is already doing, the money to be spent on this scheme would be better used protecting tenants and good landlords by actively finding the crooks who intentionally break the law.”