Tenants will be offered access to the government’s rogue landlord database under fresh plans unveiled by Theresa May.
The Prime Minister was under growing pressure to act after a Guardian and ITV News investigation this week revealed that not a single name had been entered into the system in more than six months since its launch.
Even when landlords’ names are listed on the database, members of the general public are not permitted to see them, under the existing rules, but that is about to change.
The PM’s official spokesman said: “Our rogue landlord database has only been in place since April and has been warmly welcomed by councils as an important enforcement tool.
“As we have said, only offences committed from April this year can be included, and it can take several months to secure convictions. We are clear that we expect to see entries in the database from the new year. We also intend to make information in the database available to prospective and existing tenants.”
The government estimated before the launch of the database that there were 10,500 rogue landlords operating in England, and said it expected more than 600 of the worst offenders to be entered into the system.
Before the change in policy, the contents of the database had been planned to be kept secret from the public because the government claimed that it was “not in the public interest” to explain why that decision had been made.
May’s decision to make the rogue landlord and letting agent database available to tenants has been warmly welcomed by various trade organisations, including ARLA Propertymark.
In a letter sent out to its members yesterday, David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, wrote: “ARLA Propertymark has long campaigned for this, repeatedly stating that the database will be completely pointless unless tenants, employers and professional bodies can check against the entries before taking a property, employing an agent or accepting an agent into membership.
“The database has been under fire this week amid reports that no individuals have been added, six months after it was established.
“The announcement is a triumph for the industry. Hiding this essential information is a prime example of the government failing to see unintended consequences of a vital policy. For this reason we have branded the database ‘truly ridiculous’ up until now.
“ARLA Propertymark is delighted that government have finally listened to what the industry has been saying since it was put into the Housing and Planning Bill nearly three years ago. We hope the database will now fulfil the objective of professionalising the sector, which we all wanted it to.”