Database of Rogue Letting Agencies Set Up
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has been forced to release the name of letting agencies or landlords working through companies, where they have been convicted of housing offences in England and Wales. A ruling by the Information Commissioner has now allowed that information to be published in a ‘register‘ by Environmental Health News, the magazine of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
The magazine claims that MoJ officials were ordered to disclose the data after the commissioner, who arbitrates in freedom of information disputes, ruled businesses are not entitled to the same protections as individuals.
Generation Rent, the pressure group acting on behalf of tenants, is now publicising the database, claiming it “goes some way towards giving private renters peace of mind about their landlord, as renters can now check to see whether their landlord or letting agent has been prosecuted for housing related offences.”
Of the 68 offences by 57 companies, there were several firms convicted of multiple offences, including faulty fire alarms, pigeon-infested homes and over-flowing waste pipes.
Generation Rent claims that many of the prosecuted property companies have received several hundreds of thousands pounds in the form of housing benefit for flats, which, according to one council, were in ‘an appalling and dangerous state of repair’.
The pressure group links the database to the fascination of local councils to introduce landlord licensing.
“More local authorities are introducing licensing to help them identify and prosecute criminal landlords – but this will mean that some of these merely move their operations to a new area to avoid prosecution. This database will give neighbouring councils the ability to crack down on rogue firms who have faced criminal charges in other local authority areas and who may be operating in their vicinity” claims Generation Rent.