<p>A database of private landlords and their properties, with registration being mandatory</p>
One of the biggest challenges for those seeking to regulate and oversee the private rented sector is that no one knows how many landlords operate within the sector, where they are or how many rental properties exist.
Secretary of State, Michael Gove, has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to introducing the Property Portal (and Property Ombudsman).
All landlords will be required to be registered on the portal to market or let a property and tenants will be able to view important information such a whether landlords are subject to banning orders.
This will improve transparency and information available to tenants, while also helping landlords to comply with regulations, and allowing local authorities to enforce them.
We will update this article again as more details emerge. Read on for more background to the current proposals on the new Property Portal.
Best guestimates put the number at around 2.6 million landlords and some 4.5 million households.
But all that will change once the Government’s proposed Property Portal goes live. A contract which will include the ‘Beta’ development of this digital platform has already been put out for tender.
The portal will be like - but more comprehensive than - the ones already in operation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, using the address of each private rented property in England to create a database of homes and their landlords/agents, possibly linked to the existing UPRN numbers councils give every address in the UK.
As with the schemes already in operation in the rest of the UK, the information will be likely to include the owner of the property, the company managing it (if applicable) and a contact address for the owner/management.
Landlords will be encouraged to register online, but there will be offline alternative routes. Although there will be a fee, the Government has stated that it will be “proportionate and good value”.
If a landlord fails to register and subsequently advertises or lets a property without the details being entered on the portal, the local council can issue a fine of up to £5,000. For repeated breaches or if fraudulent information is entered on the portal, landlords may be fined up to £30,000 and could face criminal prosecution and a Banning Order.
The portal may be linked to any redress cases related to the property and its landlord, and will include any information on outstanding repairing standards enforcement orders and other breaches of the Decent Homes Standard.
It has also been reported that the database will include the existing national ‘rogue landlord’ database, given the aim of the portal is to increase transparency and arm tenants with more information prior to taking up a property to rent.
The portal will also have an educational role.
The portal will provide a single ‘front door’ for landlords to understand their responsibilities, tenants will be able to access information about their landlord’s compliance, and local councils will have access to better data to crack down on criminal landlords.
I am excited about the introduction of the Property Portal as it has the potential of improving the transparency and information available to tenants, but also allows for the opportunity to help and assist landlords, and indeed agents, to understand and comply with their obligations and be able to measure themselves on what ‘being good’ looks like. It will also make it harder for bad operators to hide and help focus enforcement effectively on those who flout the law.
He does however caution that the technology needs to be correct, and the process of registering and complying straightforward and affordable, and adds, “we await the details of how this will be achieved in a realistic timescale as it is the lynchpin of so much of the other reforms proposed.
For more insights on the Renters (Reform) Bill, listen to a special episode of The Property Cast with Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the Property Redress Scheme, and leading property expert Kate Faulkner OBE, who share their initial reactions to the Renters (Reform) Bill – will it deliver what tenants need and will it have unintended consequences?
Tune in to find out what the experts think.
Watch this video excerpt to hear their thoughts on the best bits of the Bill, which focuses on the Property Portal.