For the second time in six months Westminster City Council in London is investigating a sales and letting agency set up by its own not-for-profit housing arm, it has been reported.
Called CityWest Homes, its subsidiary CityWest Residential was set up to manage the borough’s 12,700 social housing tenants and 10,000 leaseholders. But in October last year the council’s own trading standards officers investigated and later fined the company £15,000 for not displaying its letting fees properly.
The council also placed the lettings operation on Mayor Sadiq Khan’s rogue landlords and agent list.
But according to Inside Housing, City West Residential is now been investigated by the council once more, this time for failing to declare fees it would earn from the council for buying back Right to Buy properties.
The Estate Agents Act (1979) prevents agents from selling homes in which they have a personal interest without disclosing this information to the interested parties.
City West Residential denies that it has contravened trading standards or that they are in breach of the Estate Agent Act (1979).
Called an Arms’ Length Management Organisation or ALMO, CityWest Homes was the first in the UK in 2009 to set up its own residential lettings agency, which in 2002 expanded into sales.
It then went on to expand its operation to include private landlords, much the annoyance of local agents.
In February Westminster Labour Party revealed it had a ‘dossier’ of residents in the borough whose homes had been poorly maintained by the organisation. And the party has vowed to radically reform CityWest if it gains control over the council after next month’s local elections.