Calls for letting industry blacklist in England to be publicly available

There are calls for the new blacklist in England of people banned from working in the lettings market to be made public so that the whole of the private rented sector can benefit from the knowledge.

Currently the database of individuals, including rogue landlords, which came into being at the beginning of October is only available to local authorities and the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

But there is a growing demand for it to be made available to the wider industry and London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said that he wants to name and shame rogue landlords and letting agents.

The London list is being developed in partnership with local authorities and will initially include information from Newham, Brent, Camden, Southwark, Kingston and Sutton councils.

The England wide database was introduced as part of the Housing and Planning Bill 2016 which also includes measures for banning orders and rent repayment orders. A number of trade bodies have said that tenants, landlords and letting agents should all be allowed to check the list for a variety of different reasons.

According to PayProp, an automated payment platform, the list is a positive step forward for the industry and compliments increased regulation, comprehensive redress, higher industry standards and greater competition to improve transparency in lettings.

However, the company says, as one initiative among many, it has a long way to go and there is still much work to be done to improve transparency and stamp out the minority of criminal operators still working in the sector.

‘It’s been a long time in the making, but we hope that this new development will help local authorities keep track of those acting unlawfully in the private rented sector,’ said Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of PayProp in the UK.

‘Provided there are the resources available to manage and maintain the database, it could prove a valuable tool in protecting tenants from sub-standard rental accommodation and criminal operators,’ he pointed out.

The list keeps a record of people who have been convicted of housing offences in England.
Landlords and agents can be added to the list if they have received a financial penalty in relation to a banning order offence two or more times within a 12 month period. Each entry must be maintained for the period during which the banning order takes effect before being removed.

‘It’s interesting to see that London is introducing its own database of criminals and it may have a greater chance of success due to being accessible to all parties. In the future, there could be potential for it to merge with the national database and for all the information to be made available for public use,’ Cobbold added.