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Local authorities still waiting for rogue landlord database

27/11/17

Whitehall list has yet to be set up, two years after its announcement 

A database of rogue landlords and letting agents has yet to be set up, two years after it was announced by the government, it has emerged. 

Local authorities were promised the ability to check electronically with a central Whitehall list of disreputable landlords and agents, to enable them to be brought to justice. The database  would not be made available to the public.

The 2015 pledge by David Cameron's government followed growing anger about homes being converted into multiple tiny flats – allowing landlords to get rich on rent and housing benefit – including so-called “beds in sheds”, in gardens. It was enabled by the Housing and Planning Act of the following year.

But, two years on, it has yet to come into force, along with numerous other measures in the same legislation, Labour has protested.

Other measures in limbo include allowing 1.3 million housing association tenants to buy their homes, forcing councils to sell off their most expensive properties and allowing 100,000 first-time buyers to buy new “starter homes” at a 20% discount. 

“Ministers’ record on housing since 2010 shows this is a government that talks big but delivers little. Even flagship manifesto pledges have been dropped or delayed,” said John Healey, the shadow housing minister, after commissioning research by the House of Commons library.

Chancellor Philip Hammond made housing the centrepiece of his Budget last week, with the scrapping of stamp duty for most first-time buyers.

Enforcement threat

When the database was announced, the Government said that more than 3,000 landlords had faced enforcement action and prosecution in the previous two years. They included one who illegally converted a house into nine flats, raking in up to £100,000 a year in rent, while another crammed 12 tenants into a property meant for five, with some sleeping in storerooms.

Ministers agreed to act after campaigners said such cases were just the tip of the iceberg and that too many rogue landlords either escaped justice or were let off with little more than a slap on the wrist.

The Department for Communities and Local Government does not currently hold a list of disreputable landlords, with councils forced to rely on cases that are publicised on town hall websites and in newspapers.

In a House of Commons debate in September, housing minister Alok Sharma, said the database “comes into effect shortly”. The House of Commons library said the regulations allowing that to happen had come into force in recent weeks.

Register: Library & Alerts

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