Are ‘rate your landlord’ websites worth the effort?Make Text Bigger
New online services are springing up that let property people and renters share information about ‘bad’ landlords and tenants – but are the details fair and accurate?
The problem for a landlord is these sites can open the door for equality and diversity claims.
If a landlord acts on the data and refuses to let to someone, they might argue the decision was discrimination based on protected characteristics like age, gender, sexual orientation, race or religion.
Two key other legal safeguards operate for these web sites – the services have to be registered for data protection and the publishers have to abide by the laws of libel.
If the site has data protection registration, a tenant can apply for a copy of the details held about them on the database.
If a landlord has posted false information, this could lead to the tenant suing the web site for libel, unless the information is proved truthful, fair comment or
One landlord site – LandlordReferencing.co.uk – has an estimated 20,000 members keying information in to the site’s database about tenants who fail to pay rents or damage their properties.
TenantID.co.uk, now part of credit bureau Callcredit, takes a different approach and lets landlords check a tenant’s rent history in a similar way to banks and companies report a credit payment history.
Checking out landlords cuts both ways – a couple of sites also rates landlords and letting agents.
AllAgents.co.uk lists more than 17,000 letting agent review that are searchable by name, postcode or town.
UKLettingAgent.co.uk seems to have several hundred reviews but is difficult to search.
The last Labour government wanted to introduce a ‘rate your landlord’ web site, but abandoned the plans before losing the May 2010 election.
Charity Consumer Focus has floated the idea since the election and is rumoured to be trying to iron out the legal issues involved in publishing online reviews.
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