This year’s London Trading Standards (LTS) Week has kicked off with the launch of a new project designed to protect London’s 2.7 million private renters.
Tenants are being urged to use the Report a Rogue Landlord or Agent tool, an initiative of the Mayor of London’s Office, to inform Trading Standards teams across the capital about breaches of consumer protection law including the Tenant Fees Act 2019. The tool enables tenants to report problems with things like unfair evictions, repairs and maintenance, deposits and landlords’ or agents’ behaviour.
Chair of LTS, Nishi Patel, said: “The cost-of-living crisis, coupled with the dramatic increase in new rents across London, is fuelling a threat to the welfare of so many people who are seeing their incomes squeezed.
“But the launch of our project with the London Mayor’s team should provide private renters with support in their time of need.”
The Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, Tom Copley, said: “This collaborative effort, uniting London Trading Standards and the Mayor’s ‘Report a Rogue’ tool, will enable London’s 2.7 million renters to report rogue landlords and letting agents more easily and potentially have any illegally obtained tenancy fees repaid.
“When the Mayor launched his flagship Rogue Landlord Checker and Report a Rogue tool in 2017, he made it clear that unscrupulous landlords and agents would have nowhere to hide. Since then this tool has been used over 6,000 times, helping thousands of Londoners to feel safe renting in our city. This new initiative builds on the Mayor’s promise to protect the capital’s renters and create a better, fairer and safer London for everyone.”
The campaign to support private tenants is part of LTS Week 2023, which promotes the Trading Standards work of all 33 London authorities.
London’s five regional priorities are the launch of the private rental project; work to tackle illegal vapes; a cost-of-living project which encourages fair pricing practices; clampdowns on illicit tobacco; and ongoing work to combat doorstep crime.
The sale of illegal vapes has been a primary focus for Trading Standards teams across the capital over the past year, with more than 200,000 non-compliant products being removed from sale since the start of 2023. Many boroughs are working to promote awareness of the law and prevent illegal underage sales, with test purchases revealing a failure rate of about 30%.
Graeme Preston, LTS Lead Officer for Age Restricted Products, said: “London’s collective action to target non-compliant vapes is as impressive as it is important. Not only is our focus on protecting consumers from unsafe and illegal products but we’ve also prioritised engaging businesses.”
LTS’s work to support consumers during the cost-of-living crisis has focused on confusing or misleading special offers and other unfair practices. The full findings from that project will be shared at the end of March next year, but visits conducted around London have already revealed a number of problems – including inaccurate scales in shops and product displays that could confuse consumers.
A partnership between LTS and the London Tobacco Alliance (LTA) is another of the key priorities, promoting a better understanding of the illicit tobacco market. Tracy Parr, Programme Director, London Tobacco Alliance and Stop Smoking London said: “Through our partnership with London Trading Standards, the London Tobacco Alliance is helping to stamp out illegal and illicit tobacco activity across London’s boroughs. Together, we are developing new insights and strategies to combat this issue.
“The supply of illegal tobacco makes it easier for children to start smoking, takes advantage of less affluent communities and helps fund organised crime. We hope that the result of our work together will be to ensure a healthier and more transparent future for Londoners.”