Oxford City Council has become the third local authority in the country to make an entry onto the new Rogue Landlords Database.
The database, which operates across England, was set up by the Government to assist local authorities to keep track of rogue landlords and agents who are renting out unsafe and substandard accommodation across council boundaries.
Oxford City Council has entered a local landlord onto the database after he received two financial penalties for breaching the City Council’s HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupancy) regulations.
The landlord, who lets several properties in Oxford, was fined £25,648 (£12,824 for each property) in November 2018 for failing to comply with the HMO Management Regulations.
When the City Council inspected the two properties, they found defective a fire alarm system, inadequate fire doors, and a blocked fire escape route. The properties were also in a state of disrepair, with defective door locks, damaged guttering and heavily soiled carpets.
The landlord was added to the database in March.
The City Council is the third local authority to make an entry onto the national database, following an entry from Telford & Wrekin in December 2018 and Camden in January 2019.
There are 326 lower tier local authorities, including unitaries, in England.
The hope is that, as the database is used by more local authorities, the City Council will be able to more easily prove previous breaches of housing regulation outside Oxford, which could lead to higher sentences for repeat offenders or people failing ‘fit and proper’ tests to become an HMO licence holder.
Under the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which created the national database, local authorities must make an entry onto the database if a landlord or property agent receives a banning order preventing them from renting out houses.
Local authorities have the discretion to make entries where a landlord or property agent has received two or more civil penalties within a 12-month period.
Under Government legislation, local authorities cannot name someone who has been added to the Rogue Landlords Database.
Since the introduction of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 in April 2017, Oxford City Council has issued 42 financial penalties on landlords and agents for offences in the city. This has resulted in fines of £293,948.
All HMOs in Oxford must have a licence, and must comply with the HMO regulations. Regulations are in place to protect tenants, including ensuring fire doors and alarms are installed, there are no gas or electrical safety issues, and the property is in good repair.
Anyone who suspects a property may be an HMO without a licence, or is aware of an HMO in disrepair, can report it anonymously to the City Council by visiting: www.oxford.gov.uk/hmo.
Councillor Linda Smith, Deputy Leader and Executive Board Member for Leisure and Housing, said: “More than 30 per cent of Oxford residents rent their home privately and Oxford City Council expects the highest standards from landlords operating in our city.
“We take a proactive approach to enforcing legal standards for accommodation and we will not flinch from using all the tools at our disposal to protect the welfare of tenants and drive up standards in the private rented sector.”