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Agents hit with fines after failing to abide by new consumer legislation

Lettings agents have been issued fines totalling £14,100 by a local authority for failing to comply with consumer rights laws.

Officers from Thurrock council's trading standards team took action after a crackdown in the first half of last year, when agents were told in letters from the authority that they should make information available about their fees, about which government-approved redress scheme they had joined, and about whether their clients' rent and fees were put in to protection schemes. 

The council told all the agents within its boundaries that they faced financial penalties of up to £5,000 if they did not comply. The agencies were then visited by trading standards staff.

The authority has not revealed the names of the agencies involved but one, Edward Clark Estates Limited, appealed its penalty charge of £3,250 on the grounds that a member of staff was on holiday at the time the advice letter was sent and the amount of the penalty was unreasonable. 

However, the court responsible for these cases - the General Regulatory Chamber - dismissed the arguments and ruled in favour of Thurrock council.

"The legislation was passed in 2015, so there is no excuse for not meeting the requirements – even after our officers visited these agents, some decided not to take the action needed. Well, now they face the consequences” says a council spokesman.

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