13th September 2019

Editors notes – LTS Week 2019 Lettings survey

1. London Trading Standards (LTS) represents the 33 local authority Trading Standards services in the London Region. LTS shares information and awareness campaigns across the capital to protect consumers and safeguard legitimate enterprise.

2. LTS members advise on and enforce laws that govern the way we buy, sell, rent and hire goods and services. LTS carry out inspections and monitor or investigate complaints. LTS endeavours to work with businesses to help achieve compliance but ultimately, can prosecute those who break the law. Trading standards have the power to inspect premises involved in the distribution of used electrical goods. They may suspend and seize goods as appropriate as well as conduct investigations into criminal offences arising from unsafe goods

3. Consumers may report London related information on trading standards issues to London Trading Standards, via our online reporting tool http://www.londontradingstandards.org.uk/report-consumer-crime/. The information will be passed on to the relevant authority or organisation. Please note it is a confidential no-reply service. If you need any further advice or guidance please contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

4. The current letting agents enforcement survey relates to 15 months from April 2018 to June 2019. The last set of figures were prepared in 2016.

5. Letting agents are required to be a member of a redress scheme by The Redress Schemes for Lettings Agency Work and Property Management Work (Requirement to Belong to a Scheme etc) (England) Order 2014. They have a duty under section 83 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to publish the relevant redress scheme.

6. Interviews with a tenant who has suffered from poor treatment at the hands of a rogue letting agent can be arranged.

7. LTS Letting agents enforcement survey results 2018-19 and Q1 2019-20. NB figures exclude LB Hillingdon)
London boroughs reported a total of 6,039 letting agents known to them across London.During 2018-19,1,658 inspections were made either of agents’ offices or their websites and just 53.5% were found to be compliant with the law. In the first quarter of 2019-20 (April-June) 264 inspections were made and 62.5% were found to be compliant with the law. In total, over the 15 month period, 1,922 inspections were made and 54.7% of offices/websites were found to be compliant with the law.
Complaints received about letting agents: 855 in 2018-19 and 237 in first quarter of 2019-20 = total of 1,092 complaints over 15 month period.

8. Fines issued:
A total of £1,202,840 in fines was 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. 14 criminal prosecutions were taken during the period against letting agents.

9. New legislation

The Client Money Protection Schemes for Property Agents (Requirement to Belong to a Scheme etc.) Regulations 2019 came into force on 1st April 2019 and requires all letting agents to hold any client money in a separate client money account which must be protected through membership of a client money protection scheme.

The Tenant Fees Act 2019, which applies to all tenancy agreements signed since 1st June 2019, bans letting agents from charging fees to tenants for all but a handful of controlled items and deposits are strictly limited.