Almost 180 letting agents in parts of Berkshire and Hampshire are now being targeted in a campaign to find out if they are displaying fees correctly.
In the second phase of a campaign being conducted jointly by The Property Ombudsman and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, 179 letting agents in and around the Basingstoke and Reading areas are being targeted as from yesterday.
They are being asked to provide photographic evidence of their compliance with the law, which requires fees to be displayed both in the branch and on the company website.
This is phase two of a campaign which follows on from the end of the first phase, where out of 266 TPO letting agents in Swansea and Dorset, 99% were found to be compliant.
All had been asked for similar photographic evidence.
Agents found to be displaying the required information incorrectly were then given the chance to amend it and re-submit their evidence.
The campaign found that just two agents failed to comply, either by not responding or not addressing inaccuracies which had been flagged up. Both will now be referred to TPO’s disciplinary and standards committee for further investigation.
This committee is independent, and has the power to fine, suspend, or expel an agent from TPO, plus refer it to Trading Standards officers who can impose fines of up to £4,000.
Letting agents are required to display fees, along with membership details of redress and Client Money Protection schemes.
Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman, said: “TPO has seen an increase in the number of enquiries about fees from tenants in recent weeks.
“It is essential that agents provide clarity and transparency about what fees are being charged for what service so that all parties understand the commitments they are entering into.”
The campaign continues while details of a consultation on a ban on letting agent fees charged to tenants have yet to be announced.