Local authorities are failing to prosecute rogue letting agents, the National Landlords Association (NLA) has claimed.
It submitted 20 freedom of information requests to local authorities around the UK and found that half had not prosecuted a single letting agent over the past four years, while a third had only prosecuted three or fewer agents.
The NLA also says the greatest problem posed by rogue letting agents is the creation of illegal HMOs by agents within landlords’ properties.
“We were shocked to find that so few letting agents are being prosecuted by local authorities,” says the NLA’s CEO, Richard Lambert (left).
“It is clear that too many local authorities are failing in their duty to prosecute rogue letting agents.
“These bad ones can really poison the relationship between landlords and tenants. We want to see local authorities take much firmer action.
“While many local authorities have introduced licensing schemes to crack down on rogue landlords, they seem to be allowing letting agents to get off scot-free. This must stop.”
The lack of prosecutions comes despite the increasing number of selective licensing schemes that have been set up around the UK, which now number nearly 600.
As The Negotiator reported last year, the government is to review how effectively these are working.
“In the meantime, landlords should make sure their chosen agent is reputable and is a member of a client money protection scheme that will safeguard their assets — rental money, deposit or other funds — if they misappropriate them or go bust,” says Lambert.