A Trading Standards team is to carry out what it calls “unannounced inspections” of lettings agencies in one part of London - but the local council has issued a press release ahead of the visits.
The Labour council in Newham, east London, says its housing officers together with Trading Standards representatives “will carry out unannounced inspections of letting agents and property management agents in the borough beginning this week.”
The statement says the officers will inspect offices and websites to ensure that agents complying with their duties to customers, specifically relating to the display of all fees and charges, membership of a government-approved client money protection scheme, membership of a redress scheme, “as well as other responsibilities under the Consumer Rights Act.”
Rokshana Fiaz, Mayor of Newham, says: “My message to any renters facing rent rises or possible evictions is that we are on your side. We are absolutely committed to supporting renters in Newham by helping you to understand your rights and protections.
“These inspections will ensure a level playing field for responsible agents while shining a light on unfair and potentially criminal practices by a dangerous minority.
“Newham renters can be reassured that we will not hesitate to impose fines or prosecute any agents that we find to be taking advantage of renters.”
Agents who are not members of tappropriate redress or money protections schemes face a fine of up to £30,000 and - according to the council statement ”they could also face removal or variation to their property licence.”
Newham council claims that 84 per cent of renters in the borough have encountered problems with tenancies, but that 70 per cent “have not reached out to the council or others for support.”