The London Mayor’s blacklist of landlords and letting agents – an online database of rogue operators compiled and managed by local authorities – is a leading example of increased transparency in the letting sector, according to automated rental payment provider PayProp.
The Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker was launched by the Mayor of London in December last year. It keeps record of landlords who have been prosecuted or fined for rental sector offences as well as letting agencies which have been expelled by the official redress schemes.
Available for public use, the blacklist allows London renters to check prospective landlords and agents, while aiming to act as a deterrent to criminal operators.
Enforcement remains the key
Currently, 10 London boroughs are participating in the project. This means 25% of local authorities, covering approximately 600,000 London renters, are committed to publishing their records, including the name of the offending party, address of the rental property and details of any convictions.
“It’s pleasing that a quarter of London boroughs are supporting Sadiq Khan’s blacklist, but of course it’s vital that the remaining authorities get on board in the near future,” says Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of PayProp in the UK.
“At the moment, however, too many of London’s tenants are not covered by the register, which is a shame as it could become an extremely handy tool for those moving between properties.”
“As the project moves forward, it’s key that the authorities taking part update their records on a regular basis.”
“Raising awareness of the scheme will also be key,” adds Cobbold.
“The whole idea of this register is to provide tenants with information about unscrupulous landlords and agents,” he says.
“Therefore, Sadiq Khan and his team – alongside local authorities and the London lettings industry – need to do all they can to increase awareness so that this initiative is wholly worthwhile.”
A necessity for London’s PRS
The latest English Housing Survey (EHS), released in January, shows that the private rental sector (PRS) is now the biggest tenure of all in the capital.
“It’s clear for all to see that the PRS is integral to London’s housing present and future,” says Cobbold.
“That’s why it’s so important that tenants, the authorities and the wider property industry can keep tabs on criminal landlords and agents operating in the capital.”
National scheme delayed until April
The newly-named Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) is also due to launch its own national database of criminal operators in April.
Part of the Housing and Planning Bill, the register was originally due to begin operating last October but its introduction has been delayed.
The national list has attracted controversy due to the decision to make it available to local councils and the government only.
“We continue to await the introduction of the national database of criminal landlords and letting agents,” says Cobbold.
“However, as we said last September, the implementation of the national list could benefit from following some of the examples made by its London equivalent.”
“In the future, it could be a practical solution if the two lists work side by side.”
Mayor should listen to calls for tenant blacklist
Following the introduction of a London landlord and agent blacklist and the expected introduction of a nationwide equivalent in just a few weeks, there have been many industry calls for the consideration of a scheme which blacklists rogue tenants.
“The progress being made in terms of identifying criminal landlords and letting agents is admirable, but it’s understandable that many professionals feel there should also be a register of offending tenants,” adds Cobbold.
“A minority of tenants damage properties, pay rent late or cause problems in the local neighbourhood, so it only seems fair that landlords and agents should be aware of these people.”
PayProp is a bank-integrated automated payment platform operating in the UK property market.
The PayProp platform protects all parties to the tenancy agreement by providing unprecedented payment transparency and flagging late and non-payment. This enables proactive, automated client account security and arrears management.
Integrated with maintenance management platform Fixflo, PayProp moreover allows agents and landlords to monitor and respond to damage to rental properties.
Since launching in the UK in 2015, PayProp has grown to manage the payments on more than 20,000 tenancies.