The Government has revealed plans to name and shame social landlords such as housing associations, leading to worries within the private rented sector that private landlords and their agents will soon face the same treatment.
The recent announcement reveals that the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities wants to “highlight poor practice by landlords including on its social media platforms. This will include published findings by the Housing Ombudsman of severe maladministration, and judgements of the Regulator of Social Housing that consumer standards have been breached.
The failure of the Government’s attempts to provide a comprehensive register of rogue landlords and letting agents now means industry experts believe the PRS faces a similar initiative.
At the moment the only way agents are ‘named and shamed’ is when The Property Ombudsman or the PRS publishes their regular lists of named agents who have been removed from its scheme for non-payment of awards. Sean Hooker, of the PRS, commented “Unlike the Housing Ombudsman we generally do not publish our decisions or name the agent,“Unlike the Housing Ombudsman we generally do not publish our decisions or name the agent,“Unlike the Housing Ombudsman we generally do not publish our decisions or name the agent,“
He went on “After all everyone can make mistakes and we are here to help put things right and not wash an agent’s dirty laundry in public. “However, while most of the complaints we deal with are settled by private resolution between the parties, there is a case for the worst offenders to be made public.
“This should be in particular where agents fail to comply with our decisions or persistently and blatantly break the law or standards causing severe detriment to consumers.
We routinely publicise agents who are expelled from our scheme but there is no official public record of those guilty of serious breaches of good practice.
Hooker says that, although there is a rogue landlord and agent register for England, this is not available for everyone to see, and there is a voluntary public register run by the Mayor of London since 2018 which is far from a complete list.
“I would welcome a more transparent system, that protects the value of a confidential and informal redress approach, but means that the unprofessional, incompetent or criminal part of the sector have no place to hide,” he says.