London’s private renters will now be able to vet landlords and letting agencies via a new online database designed to expose criminal letting practices.
The new database will be published on the Mayor’s website and will allow the capital’s two million private renters to check whether prospective landlords have been prosecuted for previous housing offences, before entering into a lettings agreement.
Private tenants will also be given the chance to report landlords and lettings agents if they suspect their practices and accommodation to fall below legally acceptable standards.
Major of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I refuse to stand by as thousands of Londoners suffer sky-high rents and horrendous living conditions in a city they call home.
“I’ve seen first-hand the abysmal conditions that some of London’s private renters are forced to endure as a result of rogue landlords.
"I want to be clear that the vast majority of landlords treat renters well – but a minority are exploiting their tenants and it's simply unacceptable. This must stop now."
There are six councils involved in the initial development of the scheme: Newham, Brent, Camden, Southwark, Kingston and Sutton and it is expected that other councils will join once the scheme launches in the autumn.
Through use of the database, these councils will be able to share information on enforcement and investigations, and town hall enforcement teams will be able to access detailed information about actions taken against rogue landlords and letting agents.
Newham Council, the first to be granted borough-wide licensing powers for rented properties, has prosecuted more than 1,000 rogue landlords since 2013, banning 28 from operating.
Seb Klier, of the Generation Rent pressure group, said: “This new initiative will empower renters by allowing them to check if a landlord has committed a recent housing offence, and it will put the capital’s worst offenders on red alert, letting them know that if they mistreat their tenants, they will be exposed.”
The news comes not long after City Hall’s announcement of a new Homes for Londoners property portal. The portal is to hold the details of all the affordable homes to rent or buy in the city.
The lack of affordable housing in London has resulted in rogue landlords exploiting tenants, who are often forced to live in cramped and unsafe conditions, as they have few or no other housing options.
At the beginning of April, the Government gave local authorities extra powers to crack down on illegal rental practices, enabling them to issues fines up to £30,000.
Six out of ten private renters in the Capital are exposed to housing issues such as leaks, pest infestations and inadequate heating, according to a recent survey and a raid in Brent by council officers last year four 31 migrants living in a four bedroom house.
"The mayor's 'name and shame' online database brings information on criminal landlords and agents together to make it much easier for renters to find and avoid landlords anyone who has been prosecuted for housing related crimes," said Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlords Association.
"Importantly, it is also the first time renters have had a central online tool that should take some of the stress out of reporting potentially criminal housing conditions to their local authority."
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