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Enforcement of letting agents a ‘postcode lottery’ and a ‘shambles’

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Enforcement of letting agents in London has been branded a shambles.

Former Trading Standards officer David Beaumont, who now runs a free compliance helpline exclusively for EYE suscribers, was speaking after a report showed that enforcement in the capital is a postcode lottery.

The report, ‘Letting them get away with it’, was published by Sian Berry, Green politician at the London Assembly at the end of last month.

It claimed that 1,351 complaints about letting agents in London resulted in 444 visits by Trading Standards officers, 363 warning letters, 99 notices of intent and 52 final notices.

Berry said that her research showed that rogue agents “enjoy a very low risk of facing any penalties”.

Her research specifically looked into the enforcement done by London councils since May 2015.

Since then, it has been a legal requirement for agents to display their fees, and membership of deposit and redress schemes.

Her research showed that only four borough councils – Islington, Camden, Newham and Kensington & Chelsea – have issued any fines.

Just £65,000 was received in fines, and nearly two-thirds of this, £42,000, was taken by one council, Islington.

Berry said that the research showed councils were not enforcing the rules on displaying fees, “so an outright ban on letting fees is sorely needed”.

Beaumont said: “The report indicates that, apart from a handful of boroughs, Trading Standards did little or nothing to protect tenants from rogue agents in two years!

“That is staggering.

“It shows that the mantra, ‘Tenants need protecting from rogue landlords and agents’, was just used as a political bandwagon and that enforcement is a shambles.”

Berry has called on the London mayor to include letting agents in his promised database of bad landlords.

She also wants her research to be used by the Government in the forthcoming consultation on the ban on letting agent fees.

The report is here:

https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/letting_them_get_away_with_it_sian_berry_am_mar2017.pdf

David Beaumont’s free compliance advice line, exclusive to EYE subscribers, can be reached on 0161 727 0798.

  • Separately, the London borough of Southwark has issued 49 fines to estate and letting agents since February, when it began a clampdown on unauthorised boards, including those left up over 14 days after the property has been sold.

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Source:: Enforcement of letting agents a ‘postcode lottery’ and a ‘shambles’