Trading Standards services in London are warning landlords and letting agents to ensure that they are complying with the law and not overcharging tenants, after several agents in the capital were found to be non-compliant with the requirement to display their fees and other information.
The warning arrives on the final day of LTS (London Trading Standards) Week, which ran from 10th-14th September, with a view to promoting and raising awareness of the wide range of work conducted by Trading Standards services across the capital.
A recent analysis of 137 letting agent websites, carried out by LTS, revealed that many agents in the capital are not being transparent about their fees and how they protect tenants’ money.
The LTS found that more than half (53%) were not displaying a Client Money Protection (CMP) statement, 37% were not showing landlord fees and 31% were not displaying tenant fees, despite the fact that providing this information became a legal requirement three years ago.
Trading Standards Clamps Down on Landlords and Letting Agents in London
Despite housing and private renting being the number one issue for London residents, the LTS reports that there is a low level of reporting of problems with letting agents.
The Under-Secretary of State for Housing and Homelessness, Heather Wheeler MP, comments: “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 £240m a year, by banning unfair letting fees and capping tenancy deposits.”
She adds: “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 to handle their money.”
The LTS is advising those who experience or know of a letting agent acting unfairly to report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040 506, which will pass it on to the relevant Trading Standards service.
Martin Harland, the Chair of the LTS Lettings Group, says: “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.”
Tenants are reminded to use the following when looking for a place to rent:
- The Pat’s Flat poster, produced by the Consumer Empowerment Alliance, illustrates what to look for when renting a flat.
- The Government’s How to Rent guide is an invaluable resource to help tenants avoid being ripped off.
- The Mayor of London’s Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker is a tool unique to the capital, which lists enforcement action taken against landlords and letting agents to help tenants avoid using them.
The Deputy Mayor of London for Housing & Residential Development, James Murray, gives his thoughts: “There are 2.4m 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 landlords.”