Buy-to-let  

Secret rogue landlord database branded 'pointless'

Secret rogue landlord database branded 'pointless'

The database of rogue buy-to-let investors has been criticised because it will not be made public.

Later this week the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will introduce a database of landlords who are "serious and prolific offenders" having been found guilty of breaking the law on letting, as part of the government's bid to improve the private-rented sector.

But David Cox, chief executive of Arla Propertymark, said: "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."

Under the new regime, which comes into effect on Friday (6 April) buy-to-let investors with certain criminal convictions - including stalking, harassment, blackmail, theft, burglary and handling stolen goods - will be banned from renting out property.

Landlords will also need a licence if they want to rent out a property in England to five or more people from two or more separate households.

Since last year landlords have been liable for fines of up to £30,000 if they are found to be letting out unsafe or substandard accommodation.

Under the licencing regime, the government is also introducing minimum space requirements, which mean rooms used for sleeping by one adult will have to be no smaller than 6.51 square metres, and those slept in by two adults will have to be no smaller than 10.22 square metres.

Tenants will be able to contact their local council to discuss concerns they might have over a landlord but it is for individual local authorities to determine what information they divulge to tenants.

The government will encourage local authorities to publish information locally when a landlord has been banned and to inform a tenant who inquires about a landlord that has been banned.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: "Everyone deserves a decent and safe place to live and we are giving councils new powers to crackdown on rogue landlords.

"Our new national database of offenders, which goes live on Friday, will give councils the power to keep track of those who fail to provide safe and decent accommodation and target their enforcement action."

damian.fantato@ft.com