The mayor of London’s decision to launch a new public online database which ‘names and shames’ rogue landlords and letting agents who have been successfully prosecuted or have faced civil enforcement action for housing offences, has been welcomed by London Fire Brigade (LFB).
The LBF hopes that the new database, which is designed to empower renters against dodgy landlords and help improve living standards in the capital’s private rented sector, will help reduce the number of enforcement notices it is forced to produce, having issued more than 200 enforcement notices in the last five years.
Most of those notices aimed to ‘protect people living in unsuitable accommodation’, with the database to also feature information on breaches including ‘overcrowding, failure to comply with HMO management regulations, failure to provide gas safety certificates, fraud, unlawful eviction and harassment’.
The fact that the database contains a tool for tenants to easily report landlords they suspect of unscrupulous practices suggests that it should become easier for the LFB to enforce fire safety regulation where necessary.
LFB stated that it is a ‘legal requirement for the person responsible for the building to carry out fire risk assessments’, with LFB responding to complaints on fire safety as well as undertaking ‘post fire audits where poor fire safety matters are discovered’ and ‘targeted or sampling inspections’.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 gives LFB a ‘range of powers’ if landlords or letting agents are ‘flouting’ laws, from advice to prosecution.
Prosecutions cover breaches including ‘failing to carry out fire risk assessments, failing to equip the premises with adequate fire detection and failing to ensure people could evacuate the premises safely’.
Records from 10 London boroughs, including Brent, Camden, Greenwich, Islington, Kingston, Newham, Southwark, Sutton, Waltham Forest, Westminster, as well as the London Fire Brigade have been published on the database.
A further eight boroughs - Barking and Dagenham, Croydon, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Lewisham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets - have agreed to submit records in the coming weeks.
Dan Daly, LFB’s assistant commissioner for fire safety, said: “From overcrowded housing to poor escape routes and badly maintained fire doors, our fire inspectors regularly find homes that are just too dangerous to live in.
“Making it easier for tenants to find out if a potential landlord has flouted fire safety rules will act as a deterrent for the small number of dishonest landlords who pose a large risk to their tenants.”