A ‘secret’ list of banned letting agents and landlords will be of very little use, ARLA has warned.
In a briefing note this week to MPs, ARLA raised its concerns that the proposed database of banned agents and landlords will only be available for inspection by local councils and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The ARLA briefing note says that the blacklist must be made publicly available.
Both banning orders and the database have been created by the Housing and Planning Act 2016, although they have yet to be implemented.
The paper says that when ARLA has asked why the blacklist will not be available to the public, it was told it was for data protection reasons.
The paper says: “We would argue that, as letting agents are acting in the course of a business, data protection does not apply in this case.
“Further, having a secret database entirely defeats the purpose of the legislation.”
The briefing paper warns that the blacklist would become unenforceable if, for example, a banned agent moved to a new area with a different council.
A secret blacklist would not allow landlords to see if they were using or about to instruct a banned agent, and it would mean that agents could not see whether a job applicant was banned.
ARLA goes on: “We are also concerned that these new offences will not work in conjunction with the existing legislation governing sales (estate) agents under the Estate Agents Act 1979.
“Currently, the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team can issue Banning Orders to sales agents which are published on a public register. However, in discussions with DCLG there is no plan to cross-reference the existing list of banned sales agents with the new list of banned letting agents.
“Unless the two are linked together there is a very real danger that a banned sales agent could set up as a letting agent or vice versa. Nowadays many, if not most, agencies operate both sales and lettings functions.
“If the Government is serious about taking a strong stance on poor practices in the property industry then it is essential that if someone is banned from being a sales agent, they should not be allowed to re-open the next day as a letting agent and vice versa.
“This does nothing but make a mockery of the legislation.”