The rogue landlord database: essential information for every landlord

Landlord Advice

8 June 2018

The government has introduced new rules to tackle ‘rogue landlords’. As part of the changes, a ‘rogue landlord database’ was launched in April 2018 to ensure barred landlords don’t resurface in other council areas.

Minister for housing and homelessness Heather Wheeler says the rules should only affect 'the small minority of landlords that are renting out unsafe and substandard accommodation'. However, all landlords should be aware of any changes to legislation in order to avoid accidentally falling foul of the new rules.

Below you’ll find the updated main offences that all landlords need to be aware of.

Harassment

Based on the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, this law prohibits landlords from anything 'calculated to interfere with the peace or comfort' of a tenant, or using violence to enter a property.

To avoid misunderstanding, it’s crucial that you stay calm in all interactions, especially in cases where there is a disagreement with tenants. Don’t retaliate to any bad behaviour. If your relationship breaks down, you can try a mediation service. And if you’re concerned about any activity in your property, you should report it to the police rather than tackle it yourself.

Illegal eviction

In England and Wales, an assured shorthold tenancy gives landlords the right to evict tenants – but you need to follow a fixed process. That means serving a valid Section 21 notice and, if necessary, obtaining a possession order from the courts.

For other tenancy types, you need clear justification to evict, for example rent arrears, antisocial behaviour or causing damages. And you must always follow the correct legal process. Get it wrong, and you could be inadvertently breaking the law.

Ignoring improvement notices

Local authorities issue improvement notices when a rented property is deemed dangerous, usually because of concerns like fire hazards or dangerous chemicals such as lead and asbestos. However, the list covers many areas of building specifications and maintenance: the government’s Housing Health and Safety Rating System has a full breakdown.

If you’re issued with one, you have to fix the problem or you’ll face legal action and potentially be added to the database of rogue landlords. So it’s wise to put some money aside each month to cover potential repair costs.

Overcrowding properties

If five or more people from more than one household (which just means they’re from more than one family) live in your property, you need to apply for an HMO (house in multiple occupation) licence. Some councils require a licence for smaller numbers, and the rules are changing in October 2018, so make sure you're up to date.

You can also fall foul of new rules if the property is deemed unfit for the number of residents. So make sure bedrooms are big enough and there are sufficient amenities like bathrooms and cooking facilities, as well as safety features, including smoke alarms.

Providing false information

When your council requests information about your property, you must be honest and thorough in your reply. If they find anything is false, or misleading, they could add you to the rogue landlord database.

This is why it’s so important to maintain good relations with tenants, stay on top of what’s going on in your property and keep clear records.

Mitigating factors

Your local council is responsible for policing these rules and maintaining the database. If you have questions or concerns about the new rules, you should contact their housing department for assistance.

It’s far better to actively address issues than to ignore them, as councils will consider any mitigating factors like mental health issues or personal bereavement when deciding whether to add a landlord to the database.

For more information about your rights as a landlord, visit AXA’s guide to landlord rights here.