Posted on Tuesday 9th August 2022
Letting agents in Staffordshire are being reminded of their responsibilities in protecting tenants’ and landlords’ money in a new regional project.
Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards service have teamed up with the Central England Trading Standards Authorities group to check how compliant letting agents are in the county.
Since April 2019, letting agents have been required by law to belong to an approved Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme. This helps make sure that tenant and/or landlord money is protected should the business fail. In the past, deposits and rent paid in advance were usually held by the letting agent.
Letting agents are also required to belong to an approved redress scheme and to publish their certificate and other important information on their websites and in their offices.
Trading Standards officers in Staffordshire are now providing advice and support to letting businesses to ensure they are aware of their duties and are compliant. Failure to follow the rules can result in fines of up to £30,000.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture at Staffordshire County Council said:
“Helping protect communities, which includes tenants who can be vulnerable, remains a priority for our Trading Standards team and that’s what this new project will help us do.
“There are hundreds of letting agents across the region handling client money every day, so any businesses not following the laws could leave considerable sums of tenant and/or landlord money at risk.
“Our officers are working jointly with housing officers from district and borough councils, providing advice and guidance to letting agents to make sure that they are aware of their duties. We know that many agents are already doing what is required but this is a chance for those not following the rules to get their businesses up to speed.”
The West Midland-wide crackdown will be supported by the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT), which provides specialist advice, guidance and support to local authorities.
James Munro, Head of NTSELAT said:
“Our officers are providing advice and guidance to support this enforcement initiative, helping to safeguard up to a billion pounds of consumers’ money. The intelligence gathered from this campaign will be used to support local authority investigations across the country, which will help protect consumers, raise compliance across the industry and boost consumer confidence.”
People can report cases of letting agents failing to comply with the law to the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.