Dan Wilson Craw, Director of Generation Rent, acknowledged the database as “a massive step forward” for the rental market.
“But if tenants are to benefit, we need to be able to check if a prospective landlord has a criminal record.
“Rather than making this the responsibility of councils, the government could just open up the national database to the public – proper naming and shaming will help tenants to avoid the criminals and also deter other landlords from cutting corners.”
Live from today (April 6), the database and related banning orders are intended to force rogue landlords renting substandard properties out of the sector.
Landlords convicted of a range of housing, immigration and other criminal offences such as leasing overcrowded properties, fire and gas safety offences and unlawful eviction, will be put on the new database, so councils can share information between themselves and keep a closer eye on those with a poor track record.
The private rented sector houses 4.7 million households in England.
Minister for Housing and Homelessness Heather Wheeler – who recently ruled out welfare ‘reform’ and council cuts as a cause of homelessness – maintained the crackdown targeted a “small minority” of landlords.
The database will be available to use by councils to assist enforcement action against poor and unfair PRS practice.
Landlords convicted of offences under the government’s new law may also be given banning orders preventing them from leasing accommodation for a period of time, ranging from 12 months to life.
Councils must record details of any landlord or property agent who has received a banning order on the database. Landlords that ignore a banning order will face criminal sanctions including up to 6 months imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
MHCLG can use the database to publish regular updates on the number of landlords and agents who have been banned, convicted of a banning order offence or received two or more civil penalties, broken down by local authority area.