Tenants must be wary of being 'ripped off' by rogue letting agents

Tenants are being warned to be wary of being ‘ripped off’ by rogue letting agents who are flouting new consumer protection regulations.

Two new laws, the Tenant Fees Act and the Client Money Protection Schemes for Property Agents, have recently come into force to provide significant new protections for tenants.

Under the Tenant Fees Act, which applies to tenancies signed since 1 June 2019, agents are banned from charging fees for all but a handful of controlled subjects and deposits are strictly limited.

Also, since 1 April 2019, agents must hold any client money in a separate client money account. This must be protected through membership of a client money protection scheme.

However, London Trading Standards (LSA) found that more than 46% of 1,922 agents inspected by their officers were non-compliant with either the Consumer Rights Act and/or the legislation on redress scheme membership. They were fined over £1.2 million.

Figures for the rest of the country are not available but it’s thought the problem is widespread.

LSA Operations Director Stephen Knight said: “London borough trading standards teams have been increasingly active in tackling rogue letting agents in recent years, with over £1.2 million of fines issued in the past 15 months and 14 criminal prosecutions, but dodgy agents are far too commonplace across London and private renters need to be very careful not to be ripped off.”