As part of London Trading Standards Week, representatives from 15 departments are to visit letting and property management agents today in a bid to identify rogue agents and improve the rental experience for consumers.
Letting agents must display their fees and other relevant information online and in their branches so prospective tenants and landlords know exactly what they’re paying from the outset when entering a rental agreement. Those that don’t can face a fine of up to £5,000 per offence.
As a result of recent visits to agents as well as breaches identified on agents’ websites, Trading Standards departments in London have issued fines amounting to around £370,000 in the last three months alone.
James Murray, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, said: “London’s two million renters deserve a better deal, which is why the Mayor has worked closely with partners across the sector to persuade Government to ban letting agent fees and cap rental deposits. These up-front charges pile more pressure on renters who are already struggling with costs, and the Mayor is keen to see Government implement these measures without delay.
“We very much welcome London Trading Standards’ crackdown on letting agents who break the law, and we believe Government must ensure this vital work is properly resourced in the future.”
Trading Standards is working with the lettings industry, including the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), to improve standards. NALS has developed an online training course focusing on effective enforcement against agents who do not display fees or their membership of a redress or client money protection scheme. This follows the successful roll out of NALS’ Enforcement Toolkit last year, which worked with local authorities to offer a step-by-step guide to the legalities and requirements of regulating letting agents.
Isobel Thomson, NALS CEO, said: “Trading Standards play a vital enforcement role in the lettings landscape, ensuring agents trade fairly and consumers are protected. We are delighted that London has taken a lead in increasing their activity and raising awareness so that rogue agents should not simply slip under the radar.”