A London council has prosecuted a letting agency that was ’ghost listing’ on Zoopla flats that were not in fact available to rent.
Down2Town Ltd, of Islington, and its director Ilshad Ali Sumum, were left with a total bill for £6,600, including fines and costs, following the Islington council action.
The authority’s trading standards team was contacted last year after a resident noticed their home was listed for rent on the Zoopla property website, even though the property was not actually available.
Investigations revealed that the letting agent had entered into an unwritten agreement with a landlord to let out a different home in the same block, near Holloway Road.
However, the agent also went on to falsely list other flats in the block – including the home of the concerned resident - as available for rent.
These false listings kept the block near the top of the search on the Zoopla website.
Now at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court, Sumum has pleaded guilty to two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
He and Down2Town Ltd were each fined £2000, each ordered to pay costs of £1,250, and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £100, a total of £6,600.
“Flats were falsely being advertised for sale, a practice sometimes also known as ghost-listing. This not only misled those looking for homes to rent, but also caused understandable distress among the residents who discovered their homes were being marketed without their knowledge or consent” says a council spokesman.