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London agency fined £2,000 over Tenant Fees Act breach

Portico, which was bought by Leaders Romans in October, received the Tenant Fees Act penalty after trying to charge renter £195 to quit property.

Nigel Lewis

tenant fees act portico fine

A leading London estate agency recently acquired by the Leaders Romans group has been fined £2,000 for breaching the Tenant Fees Act.

15-branch Portico has received the fine from Southwark Council after it required a tenant to make a payment of £195 for leaving joint tenancy of a flat in Camden, at the end of its term, when other parties to the joint tenancy wished to continue.

Government guidance says that such a charge should not be more than £50. Although agents are allowed to charge more if the amount of their reasonable costs are higher.  Any attempt to charge more than £50 must be backed up with evidence of these costs.

Emails sent by the company in June 2021 demanded an upfront: “outgoing/exiting tenant fee” of £195.

Tenant Fees Act

But the tenant challenged this, asking for evidence of their costs in line with the Tenant Fees Act guidance, which was not provided.

When the tenant said they were going to escalate the matter to the Property Ombudsman scheme and notify trading standards, the company reduced the fee to £50, as a “gesture of goodwill”.

darren merrill tenant fees act portico fineSouthwark councillor Darren Merrill (pictured), says: “It is disappointing that we had to take action in this case, as the guidance to agents is quite clear. “Thankfully, this tenant knew their rights and refused to pay the banned £195 fee. However, it should never have been presented in the first instance.

“We are committed to improving standards in Southwark’s private rented sector. I am pleased that thanks to the work of our trading standards team, this company has been punished for breaching a law that is intended to protect tenants.”

Read more about Portico.

December 23, 2021

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