ogue London landlords are avoiding being “named and shamed” on a public database by claiming it is not in the public interest, the Standard can reveal.
The Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker introduced by Mayor Sadiq Khan in December 2017 publicly lists those convicted in London of a criminal housing offence or fined over £500.
Launching the tool, Mr Khan vowed it would “name and shame” poor landlords, leaving them “nowhere to hide”.
But some landlords have had their name hidden from the public by convincing officials there are “exceptional circumstances” why it is not in the public interest, which can include “risk of harm” or even that it would pose a national security risk.
Figures obtained by the Standard under Freedom of Information laws reveal that at least 18 “rogue landlords” avoided being publicly named this way in the three years to January 2023, out of 52 applications. The precise reasons for keeping their names private are not recorded.
Other “rogue” landlords are simply not on the public database, the Standard has found, despite being fined up £300,000 for leaving tenants in “terrible living conditions”.
A spokesperson for the London Renters’ Union said: “This database has done little to tackle the issue of unsafe housing and our rigged rental system means landlords are still able to evade accountability at every turn.”
The Mayor of London’s rogue landlord checker
Councils are responsible for enforcement and for deciding whether to upload entries onto the register. But the majority of London’s 33 boroughs do not have any public records.
The currently available entries from just 12 boroughs also do not feature several landlords who were recently criticised for flouting housing and planning laws.
The Standard has identified at least 13 such landlords since August 1, 2022, although some may yet still be added to the list.
Among them are Tirath Singh, an Ilford landlord who was ordered to repay £110,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act in May. He had turned a property into seven illegally constructed flats, and collected rent for five years.
Nirpaul Riat OBE was fined £300,000 at Isleworth Crown Court earlier this month after leaving tenants in 22 properties in west London in “appalling conditions.”
A third, Zulfiqar Ahmed from Walthamstow, was ordered to pay £291,000 for turning a commercial building into “poor quality” accommodation in October last year.
They were each described as “rogue” landlords by their councils, but none currently feature on the Mayor’s “rogue landlord” public database.
A spokesperson for the Mayor said he was “proud” that the “ground-breaking” tool had been used 400,000 times since its launch in 2017 to protect renters.
“The Mayor set up this unique database to support renters and enforcement teams but has no formal powers over the private rented sector and cannot compel boroughs to add records to the Checker,” said the spokesperson.
“The fact that they do so in large numbers is testament to the value it adds to their work to keep London’s private renters safe in their homes.”
Fines are routinely removed from public view a year after publication over privacy concerns.
Records are kept longer on a private list, viewable only to other enforcement agencies, and there is often a delay in councils uploading records because their housing enforcement teams are so stretched.
Our findings come amid Government plans to create a Privately Rented Property Portal, which may introduce a similar public rogue landlord checker across England.
“While publicly available information is important, it is no substitute for the government investing in social housing or councils holding dangerous landlords to account,” said the London Renters’ Union.