An estate agency in the Wirral has been told to pay fines and costs totalling £24,118 after being found guilty of 11 housing and consumer protection offences, including seven counts of failing to protect tenants’ deposits within a government-approved scheme.
The court case is also an example of how councils are using Selective Licensing schemes to more easily track and then prosecute agents who do not adhere to the law when dealing with tenants and rental properties.
Andrew Smith, a director of eight-year-old firm Andrews Estates Limited in Neston, near Ellesmere Port, pleaded guilty on the company’s behalf to failing to protect tenant deposits, and also giving false information to the local council and an unfair trading offence relating to the company’s website.
The prosecution followed a joint operation between Wirral Council and the local Trading Standards team, which found that the unsecured deposits were from tenants living in properties covered by the area’s Selective Licensing scheme.
“Landlords are required to manage their property in accordance with the law,” says Councillor Stuart Whittingham, Wirral Council Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning (left).
“The failings of this company put potentially vulnerable tenant’s deposits at risk, which is unacceptable.
“The purpose of the selective licensing scheme is to ensure properties are being managed correctly and this case demonstrates what an invaluable tool selective licensing is.”
The estate agency involved and its director were fined for offences committed under the Housing 2004 and Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Andrews Estates Ltd has no connection to Andrews Estate Agents Ltd, the national chain which has a similar exterior branch design and colour.
Read more about deposits.