6th February 2020

Property company prosecuted

A property company in the Wirral has been fined for consumer protection offences, including failing to protect the deposits of vulnerable tenants.

By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
The failings of this company put potentially vulnerable tenants’ deposits at risk, which is unacceptable

A property company and its director have been fined for committing 11 consumer protection and housing offences following a joint investigation by Wirral Council’s Housing Standards and Trading Standards teams.

Andrews Estates Ltd failed to secure the deposits of seven tenants living within Wirral Council’s designated Selective Licensing areas.

In addition to failing to secure the deposits the company director, Andrew Stephen Smith, also pleaded guilty to providing false information to the council and a further unfair trading offence relating to his company’s website.

Since April 2007 it has been a legal requirement for any deposit taken for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement to be put in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme by the landlord within 30 days. Landlords can choose which scheme they wish to use to safeguard each deposit.

Smith and his company where ordered to pay £24,118 in fines and costs for offences committed under Housing Act 2004 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Cllr Stuart Whittingham, Wirral Council Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning, said: “Landlords are required to manage their property in accordance with the law. The failings of this company put potentially vulnerable tenants’ deposits at risk, which is unacceptable. The purpose of the selective licensing scheme is to ensure properties are being managed correctly and this case demonstrates what an invaluable tool selective licensing is.”

Cllr Tom Usher, Cabinet member for Children, Families and Education, added: “This is a great result for the council, showing the importance of teams working together and using consumer protection laws, as well as housing legislation, to protect potentially vulnerable tenants.”

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