Letting agents in once of London’s largest boroughs face spot checks in person and remotely of their websites to check they are compliant with legislation.
The London Borough of Newham, which is one of the toughest on errant landlords and lettings agents, will be checking to see if they are displaying their fees and charges clearly and accurately, whether they are members of a client money protection and property redress scheme and whether they are compliant with the Consumer Rights Act.
The campaign is being conducted in partnership with local Trading Standards officers, which are utilising Safeagent’s recently-launched Compliance Toolket, to enforce the rules.
Agents who do not pass muster face fines of up to £30,000, the council has warned, although first-time offenders are likely to face lower penalties.
During a sweep back in 2017 a Foxtons branch was fined £2,500 for not adequately explaining what a £425 tenant administration fee was for – a fee that would now be illegal following the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act.
“These inspections will ensure a level playing field for responsible agents while shining a light on unfair and potentially criminal practices by a dangerous minority,” says Rokshana Fiaz, Mayor of Newham (pictured).
“Newham renters can be reassured that we will not hesitate to impose fines or prosecute any agents that we find to be taking advantage of renters.”
Not only is Newham a large borough, but it has one of the highest rates of private renting in London.
The Council is also encouraging renters, landlords and agents to participate in its online consultation on extending its existing property licensing schemes, which continues until 26 January 2022.