Shock Trading Standards claim: almost half of letting agents breaking the law

London Trading Standards has made the startling claim that 46 per cent of almost 2,000 agents it has surveyed are falling foul of the law.

As part of London Trading Standards Week the organisation has produced figures claiming that letting agents in the capital have been fined over £1.2m for breaking the law – either for not displaying fees and charges or for not being members of a redress scheme.

Figures from LTS show that more than 46 per cent of 1,922 agents inspected in the 15 months up to June 2019 by local council trading standards officers were non-compliant with either the Consumer Rights Act and/or the legislation on redress scheme membership.

As well as the fines, London boroughs instigated 14 criminal prosecutions for a range of offences including breaches of unfair trading rules.

The enforcement survey by London Trading Standards shows that there were over 6,000 letting agents operating across the capital and over 1,000 complaints about them.

“Dodgy agents are far too commonplace across London and private renters need to be very careful not to be ripped off. If you need help with a dodgy letting agent, then contact theCitizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 and they can refer you to your local council trading standards team” says the London Trading Standards operations director Stephen Knight.

The London Trading Standards revelation have been made in a statement which also included the support of campaign group Generation Rent.

Its director, Dan Wilson Craw, says: “This year’s Tenant Fees Act has the potential to save you hundreds of pounds every time you move. But because so many letting agents have been flouting existing laws, you have to be vigilant when looking for a new home to avoid being ripped off.”

He continues: “If a letting agent asks for something unusual, like a payment for something that is not rent or a refundable deposit, then you should question this and seek advice if unsure.”

London Trading Standards represents the 33 local authority Trading Standards services in the capital.

In detail, the enforcement survey covered all of the capital with the exception of the borough of Hillingdon.

This involved some 6,039 letting agents known to the TS teams across London.

During 2018-19, 1,658 inspections were made either of agents’ offices or their websites; 53.5 per cent were found to be compliant with the law.

Inspections of 264 agents between April and June this year found 62.5 per cent to be compliant with the law.

In total, over the 15 month period, 1,922 inspections were made and 54.7 per cent of offices and/or websites were found to be compliant with the law.

The number of  complaints received about letting agents over the 15 month period was 1,092.

Some £1,202,840 in fines were issued to letting agents by boroughs over the 15 month period.  A total of 256 fines were issued, with the average fine being £4,695; additionally, 14 criminal prosecutions were taken during the period against letting agents.

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