A London letting agency with connections to Westminster council is now being investigated by the same council’s trading standards department.
CityWest Homes was launched by the council as an ‘arms length management organisation’ back in 2002 to manage social housing; in 2009 the ALMO became the first organisation of its kind to launch a residential lettings agency operating in the private sector - called CityWest Residential - which then in 2013 expanded to cover sales.
In its own words, CityWest Residential describes itself as a “subsidiary owned by City West Homes” which “trades as an estate agency, lettings agency and property management service for private landlords wishing to sell or sublet their properties.”
One of its current private tenant clients has contacted Letting Agent Today claiming that the agency has advertised itself as trading from premises that have closed, disputing its charges to landlords and tenants, claiming it has not quoted VAT on fees, and suggesting it has not prominently displayed its membership of The Property Ombudsman redress scheme
It now appears that CityWest Residential is under investigation from Westminster council’s trading standards team.
“We can confirm that we are taking action against CityWest Residential for breaches of the Consumer Rights Act. CityWest Homes have informed us they are in the process of rectifying these breaches” a council spokesperson has told LAT.
However, the council says that as this is a “live enforcement matter” it cannot comment on the specific breaches.
But the spokesperson added: “A notice of intent has been issued to CityWest Residential. There is a period allowed for any representations. After which we will consider any representations made (if any) and proceed in accordance with the Act.”
Oliver Miller, director of CityWest Residential, has told Letting Agent Today by email: “We can confirm that Westminster City Council has issued a notice of intent for technical infringements of the Consumer Rights Act on our website. We will respond to the notice within the formal process. In the meantime, we are working alongside the Guild of Property Professionals to ensure our website is fully compliant.”