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Last updated: 09/07/2018, 6:17 PM

Dodgy landlord database will save lives, says London Fire Brigade

19/12/2017 16:07
Safety warnings

London’s Fire chiefs have welcomed the launch of a new public online database which will name and shame dishonest landlords who are putting their tenants’ lives at risk by flouting fire safety laws.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has launched the Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker, giving Londoners who are privately renting homes the opportunity to find landlords and letting agents who have been successfully prosecuted or faced civil enforcement for housing offences, including those prosecuted by London Fire Brigade for fire safety breaches.

The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Dan Daly, said: “From overcrowded housing to poor escape routes and badly maintained fire doors, our fire inspectors regularly find homes that are just too dangerous to live in.

“Making it easier for tenants to find out if a potential landlord has flouted fire safety rules will act as a deterrent for the small number of dishonest landlords who pose a large risk to their tenants.”

In the last five years, London Fire Brigade has issued more than 200 enforcement notices, the majority of which were to protect people living in unsuitable accommodation.

The new database will carry this information alongside other breaches of housing regulation such as overcrowding, failure to comply with HMO management regulations, failure to provide gas safety certificates, fraud, unlawful eviction and harassment, which are monitored by other agencies.

The database will also give tenants a tool to easily report landlords they suspect of unscrupulous practices and contain records from three national organisations offering a free and independent service for resolving disputes with their landlords.

Fire Safety regulation

It is a legal requirement for the person responsible for the building to carry out fire risk assessments. The Brigade responds to complaints about fire safety, undertakes post fire audits where poor fire safety matters are discovered and carries out targeted or sampling inspections.

Under the Regulatory Reform Order, the Brigade has a range of powers if landlords and letting agents are found to be flouting these fire safety laws, from issuing advice right through to prosecution.

The Brigade can prosecute for breaches such as failing to carry out fire risk assessments, failing to equip the premises with adequate fire detection and failing to ensure people could evacuate the premises safely.

Earlier this year, a corporate landlord and its management company was hit with a record £250,000 fine following a fire in Westminster which saw 13 people rescued by the Brigade.

Ahead of the launch of the database, records from 10 London boroughs (Brent, Camden, Greenwich, Islington, Kingston, Newham, Southwark, Sutton, Waltham Forest, Westminster) as well as the Brigade’s enforcement notices and prosecutions have been published on it.

A further eight boroughs have agreed to submit records in the coming weeks and while the Mayor has no power to require local councils to submit their data, he has encouraged all other London councils to add their data to the database so tenants in their borough are protected.

Records will stay on the public database for 12 months in most cases, but there will also be a closed section available to relevant authorities where they will be listed for up to 10 years for investigation purposes.

Members of the public who wish to use the Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker, will be able to search by and view a range of information including name of the landlord and address of rental properties.

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