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Lettings agency fined £167,000 after 'bait and switch' scam

London lettings agency Sterling De Vere must pay a £167,000 fine and compensation of £740 to a renter for a misleading room advertising scam.

Tower Hamlets council’s trading standards team took the letting agency to court after complaints that a resident was subject to a ‘bait and switch’ scam. 

This is where the prospective renter is lured to premises by being shown a room that is in excellent condition at a good price. That room is then not available and the renter is offered a room of a lower  standard. 

In this case it appears that a prospective tenant was moving to London from the Midlands and saw a bedsit advertised on the Sterling De Vere website.

The tenant paid £740 deposit but then discovered that the property for which he was given keys was a much smaller room on the third floor of a separate property. 

The tenant has told the local press that the property he was given keys for had mould, bad fittings and a broken sash window.

The council took the action under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Following a guilty plea by SDV HQ Ltd the company was ordered to pay a £167,000 fine, costs of £8,089.06 and £740 compensation to Mr Justin Wright, the complainant. 

The company has three months to pay.

A council spokesman says: “This is major victory for residents and for our trading standards team. It sends out a message that we can and will take the strongest action against letting agents who undertake this practice.”

  • icon

    Just been reading all their bad reviews. They can't all be wrong. #horrific

  • icon

    Its the bad agents and bad landlords that are giving the PRS a very negative image.
    There are certain Tenant groups and some 'so-called' charities that offer NO Shelter to the homeless, that seize upon the plentiful fodder that such bad aspects of our sector and also certain media sources that are only too quick to write a biased view against the PRS.

  • S l
    • S l
    • 13 January 2019 21:44 PM

    why are these letting agents getting punish and yet in the case of university accomodation, they put up a photo of the room but students never get the same as the ones in the picture. so why are they not being punish?????


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