LETTING agents in Thurrock have been issued fines by Thurrock Council for not complying with consumer rights laws, totally £14,100.
Officers from the Thurrock Council’s Trading Standards team took action after a crackdown in the summer.
New rules on letting agents mean they must make information available about the fees they charge, which government-approved redress scheme they have signed-up to and whether their clients’ rent and fees are protected.
In May, the council wrote to all letting agents in Thurrock to advise them about the new requirements and warned they may face a financial penalty – maximum fine of £5,000 – if they were not complying with changes.
Letting agents were then visited to check for compliance and officers provided comprehensive advice on topics such as fair trading, deposits, repairs and tenancy agreements.
One estate agent, Edward Clark Estates Limited, appealed the penalty charge of £3,250 on the grounds that a member of staff was on holiday at the time the advice letter was sent and the amount of the penalty was unreasonable.
However, the court responsible for these cases – the General Regulatory Chamber – dismissed these arguments and ruled in favour of Thurrock Council.
Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Housing, Cllr Rob Gledhill, said: “It is right that the Council is taking action on those letting agents who flout the law and are not supplying the residents of Thurrock a high level of service.
“The legislation was passed in 2015, so there is no excuse for not meeting the requirements – even after our officers visited these agents, some decided not to take the action needed.
“Well – now they face the consequences. The rental market in Thurrock is a very lucrative one so I want to make sure letting agents are doing their part. The £14,100 raised in fines will be used to fund further enforcement activity by our Trading Standards team to help protect Thurrock residents.”
Advice for local residents who are looking to rent through a letting agent, can be found at thurrock.gov.uk/private-tenants