Letting agent who failed to publish correct fees fined £4,000

A letting agent has been fined £4,000 for failing to publish the correct fees they charge tenants and landlords.

Atco Estates, in Dagenham, Essex, also failed to provide information about its memberships of Client Money Protection and redress schemes.

Trading Standards officers first advised Atco Estates of their responsibilities in January 2017. At a follow-up check last May, they found that the fees listed on the agent’s website were inaccurate, and served a penalty notice.

Atco Estates appealed the original notice stating they had displayed fees on their website and that they could not afford to pay the fine.

A hearing last month by the General Regulatory Council 1st tier Tribunal found that the fees listed on the agent’s website were inaccurate. The tribunal did not accept the letting agent’s argument that they could not afford payment and fined Atco Estates £4,000.

Cllr Mullane, cabinet member for environment and community safety at Dagenham, said: “We want to protect our residents and this case shows that we won’t allow businesses who do not play by the rules to get away with it.

“If you want to be a letting agent in Barking and Dagenham, the message is crystal clear, you must comply with the law.”

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9 Comments

  1. DASH94

    I cannot understand why, when you’ve had a warning from Trading Standards you’d let things slip for a second visit.   One slip is understandable but getting caught twice seems careless.

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  2. PossessionFriendUK39

    Careless, ?  or  ‘in flagrante’

    Lets be fair,  enforcement against estate or letting agents is about less effective than the Police against criminals.

    There just isn’t the disincentive and its the majority of legally compliant that suffer the unfair competition.

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    1. DASH94

      A 4 grand fine is pretty disintentivey- especially when you don’t have it.
       

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  3. LL2112

    Not unusual. Reported A-Team Properties in Leeds for the same thing but Leeds Trading Standards don’t see it as their role to pursue such matters…

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    1. Robert May

      Escalate it  directly to James Munro of NTEAT, he is properly committed to enforcing CPR and BPR but can’t do so if  local trading standards aren’t aware of their obligations and  dip out of their responsibility because they are either ignorant of the rules or don’t see it as a big issue affecting  consumers.  
      Protecting decent businesses  goes a long way to assisting consumers so ought to be viewed as a very efficient way of applying CPR enforcement; solve the problem not the problems.

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      1. Woodentop

        The last I heard, they don’t have the man power to cope with their own area let alone nationally and are reliant on local trading standards.

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        1. LL2112

          Ok we shall see. I have escalated as you suggest. Fingers crossed we see their name and a chunky fine on this website in the not too distant future!

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  4. jeremy1960

    Stupid is, stupid does! If they had a warning that they ignored then they are stupid! That said at least the local authority’s TSOs managed to leave their warm offices at least twice in a 12 month period find an agent and get back safely!

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  5. Property Poke In The Eye

    Trading Standards could make a fortune for the public by enforcing CPR and BPR.

    Planning Enforcemnt could also make a fortune for the public by enforcing the 14 day board rule.  Some boards in our area have been up so long they have faded with the weather.

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