Cleaning Up the Private Rented Sector
A recent story in the Guardian – ‘Tenants will be given access to rogue landlord database’ – outlined how campaigners have welcomed government plans to open its rogue landlord database to prospective tenants, as part of proposals to offer greater protection to renters.
The communities secretary, James Brokenshire, recently announced plans to allow public access to the register of the worst landlords, which is currently only open to local authorities. The move comes after an investigation by the Guardian and ITV News last year found that the database’s contents would be kept secret from the public, prompting a government U-turn and pledge from the prime minister, Theresa May, to open the register.
Tenants will be able to look up their landlords and letting agents by name on the database to check their track records, with blacklisting possible for sex and drugs offences as well as failing to provide proper accommodation. However, only a small number of names have so far made it on to the database, which went live in April 2018. Freedom of information requests submitted by the Guardian earlier this year found that only four landlords had been added, by three councils. The government has said the list will grow and that it expects the worst landlords to be added in time, once prosecutions for offences have been completed.
This represents a positive step. Anything which raises standards and offers more protection for tenants in the private rented sector should be applauded. And let’s hope that rogue landlords continue to be held accountable and that the perception of professional and respectable landlords improves as a result.