Unitary local authorities where trading standards and environmental health teams work to the same objectives are more successful at clamping down on rogue letting agents than ‘two-tier’ councils, according to the Property Redress Scheme.
Sean Hooker, head of redress at the PRS, says communications problems between two-tier authorities - where, for example, environmental health and trading standards are in separate teams or even handled by separate councils - can make enforcement much more difficult.
Hooker has told the BBC that authorities like Sheffield, Newham, Camden and Plymouth, where the EH and TS teams are combined, are “ahead of the game.”
Last week we reported that Sheffield council fined 11 letting agencies a total of £37,000 for not being members of any of the three redress schemes. Sheffield council, which has conducted the clampdown, claims it is the first authority outside London to use legislation introduced last October obliging letting agents to be in either the PRS, The Property Ombudsman, or Ombudsman Services: Property.
Hooker says authorities should enforce the regulations on agents joining a redress scheme and associated legislation obliging agents to tell clientsthe identify of their chosen redress scheme.
He says rigorous enforcement could produce revenue from fines which would fund the ongoing policing of agents.