Newham Council has become the first local authority in the country to crack down on letting agents who have failed to sign up to a redress scheme.
This has been compulsory since October 1.
Newham Council in London has begun issuing penalty charge notices against agents who failed to observe the requirement.
It has so far visited ten agents and issued six penalty charge notices of £5,000 each. A remaining 17 letting agents suspected of being non-compliant are in the process of being visited by council officers.
It is the latest move in Newham’s Fair Lettings Project, an initiative introduced to ensure all 193 residential letting agents in the borough are complying with legislation.
Officers have been checking to ensure that letting agents are displaying their fees transparently, protecting deposits and have fair contracts.
The latest action is not unexpected.
In September, the council wrote to 66 agents in the borough who were not already signed up to a redress scheme. This was followed up with a visit by trading standards officers who reissued the letter and reminded agents of the deadline.
As a result, more than half of these agents have now signed up to a scheme.
As well as the Fair Lettings Project, Newham Council runs the country’s first blanket licensing scheme, by which every rental property in the borough has to be licensed.
Newham’s mayoral adviser for housing, Andrew Baikie, said: “We are using all the powers at our disposal to drive up standards for tenants in the private rented sector to ensure that our residents have access to good quality homes.
“Those agents who have failed to sign up to a redress scheme are not operating within the law and we are taking action to protect our residents.”