A Kent county councillor says letting agents “would have to be pretty dumb” to allow a situation arise whereby they would be fined £5,000 for not displaying their fees on their website.
The council was debating the powers it has, as set out in national legislation, to monitor letting agents’ websites and to fine up to £5,000 if fees are not clearly displayed on the websites.
The council’s growth, economic development and communities committee - discussing the issue last week - was reported by the Kent Online news website to have been given a report by the authority’s trading standards department.
Steve Rock, who heads the council’s trading standards team, told members of the committee: “It appears like we have some arbitrary power and just march into a letting agents and say ‘right give us £5,000, please’. It’s not. This is part of a long process.
“We need to put the information out there and give the letting agents a chance to see if they are complying, then look to visit. We then give them a chance to put the matter right. The idea is about bringing fairness into the market and transparency" he continued.
The website then reports that the newly-appointed chair of the committee, councillor Seán Holden, said: “I hope letting agents understand that they are not going to be the victims of overbearing bureaucracy and I think they would have to be pretty dumb if they got one of these fines.”
Since May 2015, as part of the Consumer Rights Act, it has been mandatory for letting agents to display their fees clearly in their branches and on offices.
In theory, those that don't comply could be fined up to £5,000. However, statistics show the regulations have barely been enforced.