Private Rented Sector - London Rogue Landlord database

Meeting: 
MQT on 2017-10-12
Session date: 
October 12, 2017
Reference: 
2017/3831
Question By: 
Caroline Pidgeon
Organisation: 
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

What is the timescale for the release of the London Rogue Landlord database?

Answer

Answer for Private Rented Sector - London Rogue Landlord database

Answer for Private Rented Sector - London Rogue Landlord database

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you for your question.  I am committed to helping London’s 2 million private renters to get a better deal.  That includes by doing what I can to drive out the minority of criminal landlords and letting agents in the capital.  My ‘name and shame’ database on which information will be easily and publicly available to Londoners for the first time is a key part of this.  I am pleased to say this database will launch by the end of this year.  Initially the database will include details of landlords and letting agents who have faced enforcement action by six London boroughs or the London Fire Brigade.  The London Fire Brigade and the six London boroughs, Brent, Camden, Kingston, Newham, Southwark and Sutton, have worked with my team to develop and test the database over the course of this year.

 

Following the launch we are keen to bring on board the remaining London boroughs, many of whom I know are standing ready to do so.  By being publicly accessible we intend the database to deter bad practice in the sector and allow tenants to check landlords or agents before they sign a rental agreement.  Currently landlords know a lot about a prospective tenant, but a tenant knows very little about their landlord.  This database is the first step towards making the rental market fairer and more transparent for tenants, empowering Londoners to make better choices about who they rent from.  Parallel to my work, Government is developing a national rogue landlord database solely for use by local authorities.  I believe Government should make this national database public so that tenants across the UK have access to this information.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Thank you for your answer.  Can I just be clear, will landlords convicted of fire safety offences be included on the rogue landlord database?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Will that include both local authority information, as they obviously hold a lot of fire safety information about private landlords, and also the enforcement work taken by London Fire Brigade?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Brilliant, OK.  Will all that information be on straight away with the pilot or will it be once it is rolled out?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  There will be a public tier and a private tier.  The public tier will have these prosecutions listed for a year, based on the advice we have received regarding the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, because it is spent after a year.  So, it will be listed on the public tier for a year after conviction; there will be a private tier available to councils and information will be held on there longer.  I think it will be ten years on the private tier.  The good news is there has been interest from other boroughs other than the six and once we are live, do not be surprised if others come on board pretty quickly.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  What is your timescale to have all of the other boroughs on to your database?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I cannot force them; it is a voluntary scheme.  There is interest already there.  We will launch the first six and the London Fire Brigade this year.  I will be disappointed if by the end of next year there were not more on board, but I suspect there will be tranches, because it depends how good their information is.  Those that are licensing boroughs will probably be more advanced, those that are not may be a bit behind.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  OK, very good.  It is a really important tool for those who rent privately.  As you said earlier, 28% going up potentially to 40%, we really need to protect those tenants. 

 

Related to this, do you agree with the Information Commissioner’s statement that public organisations holding relevant fire safety information should publish these records proactively?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I think it is really important, particularly post-Grenfell, that there be maximum transparency so people can make choices themselves.  I caution that with one thing: we do not want to spread panic or alarm.  I say this not in an arrogant or patronising way, but sometimes laypeople do not understand the nuances of what a report inspection says.  As long as it is explained in language that people were not alarmed by, unless there is reason to be alarmed, I think transparency is always a good thing.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Have you taken any action on this recommendation from the Information Commissioner?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes.  The London Fire Brigade (LFB) are doing renewed inspections of the various properties across London, 33 councils, and they are in discussions with councils about those inspections about the work they have done since the last inspection post-Grenfell.  Do not be surprised if quite a few of those things are made public.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  You are going to make sure, as much as within your power --

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Exactly.  What limited powers I have, but also what we do not want to do is cause panic and alarm.  For example, somebody could make a choice as the consequence of reading an inspection to leave a building and go somewhere less safe than the building they are already.  We have to be careful about not unnecessarily spreading panic or alarm.  You have to be responsible with the information.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  OK, thank you.  Another question relating to the private rented sector: from 1 April 2018 private rented properties will require a minimum energy performance rating of E in terms of their energy performance certificate, and in your draft Environment Strategy you say you are going to work with local authorities to enforce these regulations for energy efficiency.  How are you going to be able to enforce these regulations and are you going to be providing any resources to help local authorities?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It is not for us to enforce local authorities.  I believe in devolution.  I believe in devolution as low down as possible.  I am not in favour of taking powers away from local authorities or stepping on their toes.  It is about conversations and talking to them.  We are doing more and more work with local authorities with the local boroughs PRS partnership.  All 33 boroughs are on there.  We have met a few times, my team and them.  That has led me to be very confident about the willingness from local authorities to work in this area.  One of the reasons we are doing that is to improve enforcement and to drive up standards.  The good news is there is an appetite there.  The bad news is local authorities are stretched financially, as indeed we are.  We have to make the case why it is worth doing this and demand from consumers and politicians helps.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Once this is up and running and there are potentially prosecutions for lack of energy efficiency, will that also feature on your database?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  That is a good question.  At the moment that is not the plan, because it is landlords with criminal convictions, rogue landlords, but because of public opinion moving, because we know the seriousness of bad energy in homes, we need to think about making information more transparent.  It is a balance to be struck, because obviously what we do not want to do is inadvertently penalise landlords who are taking action.  That is one of the things under discussion, what we could publish in the future.  At the moment we are quite clear in relation to what we are going to publish: criminal prosecutions from enforcement teams, health and safety, London Fire Brigade, but we will keep it under review.  That is one of the reasons why the London Boroughs Private Rented Sector Partnership is such an important forum.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  OK, thank you very much.