Hundreds of rogue letting agents have coughed up £1.2 million in fines after a crackdown by trading standards officers.
The agents were punished for failing to display fees and or not belonging to a redress scheme.
Between March 2018 and June 2019, trading standards officers in London inspected 1,922 letting agents and found nearly half – 884 (46%) – were breaking the law.
Besides the fines, criminal prosecutions were started against another 14 agents for allegedly breaking unfair trading rules.
London Trading Standards, the capital’s umbrella group for consumer watchdogs says the capital has around 6,000 letting agents who had notched up 1,000 complaints from tenants.
Operations director Stephen Knight said: “London borough trading standards teams have been increasingly active in tackling rogue letting agents in recent years, with over £1.2 million of fines issued in the past 15 months and 14 criminal prosecutions, but dodgy agents are far too commonplace across London and private renters need to be very careful not to be ripped off.”
New laws protecting tenants from rogue agents have come into force recently.
Client money protection rules insist agents keep money held for tenants separate from business funds and charging fees to start, renew or end a tenancy are banned.
London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing and Planning and Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Councillor Darren Rodwell, said: “Boroughs are cracking down on rogue letting agents to protect tenants from unfair treatment. As the research shows, this poses a serious challenge in London, where housing pressures are so severe and a significant number of letting agents have been breaking the rules.
“Through raising awareness, issuing fines and pursuing prosecutions, we’re determined to support tenants and make clear to rogue letting agents that bad practice is unacceptable.”