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Letting Agent Redress Scheme not Enforced

Companies who have not joined a Letting Agent Redress Scheme are not being prosecuted. This is according to a letting agent who has been undertaking his own research. He was told that none of the local authorities in his area had yet issued a fixed penalty notice against an agent for not registering with a letting agent redress scheme.

The agent, Ajay Jagota of KIS (http://www.kis.co.uk/), ran a Google search and says he found five agents local to him in the north-east which apparently do not belong to a letting agent redress scheme. He also found two national letting agents not listed as members of any of the three redress schemes.

In March, the Citizens Advice estimated that 20% of agents had not signed up to a letting agent redress scheme, despite it being mandatory since last October. Mr Jagota initially sought figures from the Ministry of Justice but was told that the information was held by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

The DCLG told Mr Jagota that it did not hold the information. He was referred on to his local authorities.

KIS asked the five Tyne and Wear councils how many fixed penalty notices had been issued since October 2014 to letting agents who are not members of an approved letting agent redress scheme. Gateshead, Newcastle, North Shields, South Shields and Sunderland all replied saying they had not issued any notices. Local authorities have the power to issue fines of up to £5,000 to letting agents that have not signed up to a scheme.

Mr Jagota said: “It would be nice to think that the absence of any fines for letting agents not joining a mandatory redress scheme means that every single agent has signed up to one, but with Citizen’s Advice estimating that one in five agents haven’t, that seems to be a little fanciful.”

Yesterday, one agent tweeted: “Spent today on competitors’ websites checking lettings fees. Well I would have, had any had them on display. Now shopping to trading standards.”

Victor Jameson of Cambridge Letting Agent New View Residential commented: “It’s a real pity that trading standards aren’t fining agents who don’t join one of the approved letting agent redress schemes. This seems a real failure to protect tenants and landlords against rogue letting agents.

“There are calls for further letting agent regulation from both within and outside the industry. But there seems little point in adding extra regulation if we are not enforcing the regulations that already exist.”

Original Article: www.propertyindustryeye.com/councils-yet-to-issue-enforcement-penalties-against-agents/

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