A survey of one Home Counties area shows that out of about 40 letting agents some 24 appear not to be displaying their fees on their websites, as set out in consumer legislation.
The survey - conducted by a member of the industry but disclosed to Letting Agent Today and other publications on agreement that the author would remain anonymous - looks at letting agents in St Albans and nearby Harpenden.
The survey's author has contacted Letting Agent Today to say: “As you are no doubt aware the law on letting agents displaying fees came into force in May 2015. The law states that lettings agents or estate agents engaging in lettings and property management must display their fees prominently in the branch and on their website or face investigation by the local authority trading standards team and potentially face a £5,000 fine for non-compliance.”
The author says his findings (based on website visits, not visits to actual branches) show that at least 70 per cent of St Albans and Harpenden letting agencies may not be complying despite advance warnings about the need to display fees appearing early in the new year - some 10 months ago.
The survey names the 24 agencies and the author adds: “Honest law abiding letting agents in other areas of the country have mentioned via social media that they have experienced a similar problem and that trading atandards have been dismissive or disinterested in enforcing the law and stamping out anti-competitive behaviour in an industry that already has a dismal reputation for being conservative with the truth.”
The author of the survey has passed the findings on to trading standards and is awaiting a reply.
"Who do I care?" the author asks. "Because I do it properly and it's galling to be 100 per cent honest and get nowhere while your competition breaks the law and gets away with it without so much as a penalty."
In the meantime, he says has one message to industry about the problem: “It’s time for it to stop.”