Urgent warning for renters as database meant to protect them from ‘rogue landlords’ left near-EMPTY – how else to check

RENTERS are being warned they can’t rely on a database meant to protect them from convicted landlords as councils are failing to update it, The Sun can reveal.

The Rogue Landlords database, launched in 2018, was created by the Government to make local authorities aware of landlords and property agents convicted of housing offences.

The Rogue Landlords database has just 49 names on, our FOI found


The Rogue Landlords database has just 49 names on, our FOI found

Currently, only local authorities can check the database on behalf of tenants, although The Sun understands that there are plans to open this up to renters in future.

Thousands of landlords are estimated to have been prosecuted for housing-related offences over the past few decades.

Greater London Authority estimates several thousand landlords have been prosecuted by London boroughs and have unspent convictions.

Meanwhile, a freedom of information request (FOI) to the Ministry of Justice in 2015 revealed there were 2,006 convictions between 2006 and 2014 resulting in fines of £3million.

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However, figures obtained by The Sun through a Freedom of Information request (FOI) show there were only 49 names currently live on the Government’s Rogue Landlords database as of January this year.

The names are spread across just 27 local authorities, with 15 of those only having one entry.

The council with the greatest number of entries is Camden London Borough, with 8 entries in total.

The database has entries for 27 councils, according to the response to our FOI


The database has entries for 27 councils, according to the response to our FOI

The Rogue Landlord database was created as a tool for local housing authorities in England to keep track of rogue landlords and property agents.

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It is down to local authorities to make an entry on the database.

This is mandatory when the council has obtained a banning order against a landlord or agent, but councils also have discretionary powers to make entries without a banning order in the following circumstances:

  • If the person or agent has at least one previous banning order against them, which they have been convicted for.
  • Two or more banning offences within 12 months that they have received civil penalties for

However, a source close to the situation told The Sun that local authorities don’t have the time or money to invest in pursuing banning orders against rogue landlords.

They added that landlords and agents who have multiple properties across the borough are considered valuable due to the lack of available affordable housing for tenants.

So, they said, some local authorities have become reluctant to pursue a rogue landlord or agent if it means 20 of their properties could fall out the housing stock as a result.

As a result, the number of rogue landlords and agents is far higher in reality and the database is not working to protect tenants as intended.

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Al McClenahan, founder of Justice for Tenants, explained: “The Rogue Landlord Database is meant to inform all citizens if a landlord or agent is a criminal.

“If everyone who committed housing crimes was on the Rogue Landlord Database, tenants could check whether their landlord is a criminal before renting and avoid horrible, unsafe housing situations.

“Tenants would be better protected if all criminal landlords were listed and stayed on that list for many years.

“That was the main purpose of the Rogue Landlord Database, but unfortunately it isn’t working to help keep tenants safe.”

These law-flouting landlords know tenants have no option but to put up and shut up, and councils often lack the resources to tackle them

Polly Neatechief executive of Shelter

Experts had hoped the Renters (Reform) Bill might improve the situation, but now there are fears it is so watered down that it won’t make any difference.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said every day her charity hears from renters who are paying “over the odds” to live in shoddy homes because of bad landlords who are “cashing in” on their lack of alternatives.

“These law-flouting landlords know tenants have no option but to put up and shut up, and local councils often lack the resources to tackle them”, she said. 

“The Renters (Reform) Bill promised to introduce a Private Rented Sector Database to make it easier for councils to find and crack down on bad landlords.

“But with the Bill so watered down, a database won’t be of any use in tackling bad landlords without a guarantee of stronger rights for renters.

“The Bill must be beefed back up, and councils given the funding and resources so bad landlords can’t slip through the net.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “Councils must update the database when rogue landlords are banned from letting out properties.

“Our Renters (Reform) bill will make it fairer for landlords and tenants, with an improved system for monitoring landlord offences.”

Where else can renters get help?

While the Rogue Landlords Database can’t be relied upon to keep tenants safe, there are other ways to check if your landlord has a bad reputation.

For example, Marks Out Of Tenancy is a website where you can check reviews of your landlord, letting agent and rental property from other past tenants.

Thousands of renters have shared their experiences of the worst and best landlords and letting agents through the site, so it might be worth checking before you put your deposit down.

More people contributing will also help to make the market safer for other tenants, Mr McClenahan said.

The website also has a helpful section on renters’ rights with everything you need to know from who is responsible for getting rid of black mould, to making sure you get your deposit back.

If you are already having problems with your landlord, you can contact charities such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Shelter for help.

They offer free advice and will be able to explain your rights and what other resources are available to you.

It might be possible to complain to your local authority, too.

They can help with complaints concerning health and safety, illegal eviction, harassment or dishonest and unfair trading.


Some councils have their own databases you can check. For example, you can check landlords and agencies in London who have had enforcement action taken against them on the Mayor of London website.

Visit: london.gov.uk/programmes-strategies/housing-and-land/improving-private-rented-sector/check-a-landlord-or-agent.

What are my rights as a renter?

According to the Government website, tenants have a right to:

  • Live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair
  • Have their deposit returned when the tenancy ends – and in some circumstances have their deposit protected
  • Challenge excessively high charges
  • Know who their landlord is
  • Live in the property undisturbed
  • See an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  • Be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent
  • Have a written agreement if they have a fixed-term tenancy of more than three years

If you have a tenancy agreement, it should be fair and comply with the law.

Ask whoever you pay your rent to if you don’t know who your landlord is. Your landlord can be fined if they don’t provide this information within 21 days.