LTS Week, Day 4 – Housing
Trading Standards services in London are working together to help tackle problems with letting agents who aren’t complying with the law and are leading nationally on this issue.
In June this year, a website survey of letting agents in the capital revealed an extremely high level of non-compliance with the requirement to display fees and other information.
A survey of 137 letting agent websites carried out by London Trading Standards (LTS) revealed that many letting agents in London are not being transparent about their fees and how they will protect tenants’ money. LTS found:
- 53% were not displaying a Client Money Protection (CMP) statement
- 37% were not displaying landlord fees
- 31% were not displaying tenant fees
This showed that, three years after providing this information became a legal requirement, a number of agents are still not stepping up to the mark to raise standards, and continue to flout the law.
In one case, Trading Standards in Islington took ground breaking action against a letting agent who used a sham rental licence, which attempted to take away tenants’ rights. Read more here on the case.
Despite housing and private sector renting being the number one issue for London residents, there is a low level of reporting of problems with letting agents. London Trading Standards is advising those who experience or know of a letting agent acting unfairly to report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506, who will pass it on to the relevant Trading Standards Service.
Anyone looking for a place to rent can help themselves by using any of the following:
- ‘Pat’s Flat’ poster produced by the Consumer Empowerment Alliance – illustrates what to look for when renting a flat
- ‘How To Rent’ guide, recently updated by the Ministry of Housing – an invaluable resource to help stop tenants from being ripped-off
- Mayor of London Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker – a tool unique to London which lists enforcement action taken by London Boroughs against landlords and letting agents, helping people to avoid using them
Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP said: “Working with trading standards teams in London and across the country, we are stopping rogue landlords and agents in their tracks.”
“The new measures in our Tenant Fees Bill will save renters around £240 million a year by banning unfair letting fees and capping tenancy deposits.”
“On top of this, new regulations will keep renters’ money safe by only allowing letting agents that join a Government-approved client money protection scheme handle their money.”
Martin Harland, Chair of LTS’ Lettings Group said: “Rental costs in the capital are high and for too long a significant number of letting agents and landlords have been getting away with rip offs. To help us get the big picture and start tackling the rogues, we need to know who is causing problems in the London market. So please ‘report it to help sort it’ by contacting the Citizen Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506”
James Murray, Deputy Mayor for Housing & Residential Development said: “There are 2.4million renters in
London, and it’s vital their rights are upheld and that they are protected from the few rogue landlords and agents who operate in London.”
“In order to truly improve the private rented sector we need much more wide ranging reform. In the meantime, the Mayor will continue to stand up for London renters by working in partnership with Boroughs and London Trading Standards on improving standards, enforcing transparency around letting agent fees, and helping renters to access information on rogue traders.”
Isobel Thomson, CEO of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), said: “Professional letting agents who work hard to ensure they adhere to the law have their name tarnished by the agents who fail to comply. Only by reporting these agents can we stamp out rogues, and improve the private rented sector for all. We would also urge consumers to check their agent is a member of a professional regulatory organisation like NALS who will have a strict code of conduct to ensure the highest standards”.