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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Trading standards looking to clamp down on rogue landlords and letting agents

Trading Standards services in London are warning landlords and letting agents to ensure that they comply with the law and not overcharge tenants after several agents in the capital were found to be non-compliance with the requirement to display fees and other information.

The warning comes during LTS (London Trading Standards) Week, which takes place 10 – 14 September, with a view to promoting and raising awareness about the wide range of work carried out by Trading Standards Services across London.

A recent 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.

The LTS found that more than half - 53% - were not displaying a Client Money Protection (CMP) statement, 37% were not displaying landlord fees, and 31% were not displaying tenant fees, despite the fact that providing this information became a legal requirement three years ago.

Despite housing and private sector renting being the number one issue for London residents, LTS report that there is a  low level of reporting of problems with letting agents.

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.”

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 040506, who will pass it on to the relevant Trading Standards Service.

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.”

Landlords are reminded that 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.

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing & residential development, commented: “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 landlords.”

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