London Trading Standards (LTS) is launching its first city-wide, week long, awareness campaign, aimed at showcasing efforts to ensure consumers and reputable businesses are protected across the capital.
Yesterday, 25 September 2017, London’s 33 Local Authority Trading Standards Services joined forces to bring to light the key issues that affect consumers and businesses daily. Each day the LTS will focus on a different theme, revealing the wide range of work that Trading Standards Officers carry out on behalf of Londoners, including the results of undercover investigations. Day one’s focus was to reduce the number of knives sold to children. The key message is ‘helping prevent people being killed through knife crime’.
Day 2 is more business focused. Today Letting Agents & Property Management Companies would have been visited by Trading Standards Officers, the focus, without a doubt the way in which many agents have failed to comply with the Consumer Rights Act 2015 introduced in May the same year. The purpose of the legislation was to ensure that any fees charged to the consumer – landlords and tenants – were transparent.
Looking Back to the Consumer Rights Act
Almost 2 and a half years on many agents are failing to ensure that fees are displayed in their offices AND on-line, many believing that there is no “policing” and therefore, no comeback. Today will have changed that, not only would the officers be looking at the way in which fees are displayed, they will also analyse Terms and Conditions of Business ensuring they adhere to the guidance set down in the Code for Lettings.
Until now we have seen fines of over £35,000 awarded to Letting Agents in Milton Keynes. As a result of recent visits to agents as well as breaches identified on agents’ websites, Trading Standards departments in London have issued fines amounting to around £370,000 in the last three months alone.
Martin Harland, lead officer and Chair for London Trading Standards (LTS) Letting Agents Working Group and Principal Officer at Camden Council agreed: “We won’t allow letting agents flouting the law to get away with it. It’s simply not fair to the consumer or the substantial part of the letting industry who go out of their way to do things right. If you want to be a letting agent the message is clear; you must comply with the law. London Trading Standards wants to protect London residents and the businesses that trade fairly here. If you know an agent who isn’t publicising their fees or who isn’t complying with the law, let us know about it.”
Moving forward we will see more and more fines being awarded as the consumer becomes more and more aware of what the Letting Agent is required to do.
Susie Crolla -CEO