Stoke-on-Trent City Council Trading Standards has been carrying out a campaign of compliance checks on letting agents in the city following a number of complaints.
Tenants and landlords have complained of problems including illegal charges, agents failing to protect deposits or ensure membership of the redress schemes.
The city council, through a joint campaign by its Trading Standards and Private Sector Housing Team, is providing advice and support to local businesses to ensure they are aware of their duties and are fully compliant. Failure to comply with the law can result in fines of up to £30,000.
The campaign is part of a project running across the West Midlands.
Under the Tenant Fees Act 2019, all letting agents and management firms that handle clients’ money must be part of a Government approved Protection (CMP) scheme. Belonging to a CMP scheme ensures that tenants’ and landlords’ money, such as rents and deposits, is protected if the business fails.
Letting agents are also required to belong to an approved redress scheme which helps to resolve disputes between customers and services. This information, including the name of the scheme, logo and certificate number, should be published on their website and in their offices. They must also clearly display the name and logo of the CMP provider and a viewable certificate, and information about landlord and tenant fees and charges.
Councillor Carl Edwards, Stoke City Council cabinet member for housing and environment, said: “One of our key priorities is to make our towns and communities great places to live. We want to be Stronger Together Through Winter and this will help by improving housing conditions and the practices of letting agents who rent out properties in the city.
“Although we know that most letting agents want to comply with the law, some are making illegal charges or not registering with the schemes. We need to identify and tackle these rogue practices to protect our residents and legitimate businesses.”