Around one third of all letting agents in Milton Keynes have been fined by the council’s Trading Standards department for not displaying fees, as required by the law.
The 30 agents were fined thousands of pounds for failing to display the fees they charge to landlords and tenants.
All of the letting agents in the town were initially contacted and reminded of the law on displaying fees, but, worryingly, many did not know they are legally obliged to do so.
Rightmove currently lists 108 sales and letting agents in Milton Keynes, which is broadly in line with the 105 contacted by Trading Standards.
The department acted after new legislation in 2015, under the Consumer Rights Act, requires letting agents to display the fees they charge both in their offices and online.
Throughout the past year, Trading Standards officers carried out research to check if agents in the borough were displaying the required information. They found that many of the agents were not aware of the legislation and what it means for them.
Trading Standards then wrote to all of them, with an explanation of their responsibilities and a warning of financial penalties if they failed to comply.
Two months later, officers followed up the letters with visits to the letting agent offices.
While most – 75 – had displayed their fees correctly, 30 agents were still breaching the law on displaying fees.
Councillor Mick Legg, the Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards, comments: “In these days of very high mortgage costs, many people are renting, and many of them really are in the hands of letting agents.
“It is important that information about fees is absolutely transparent from the start, and our Trading Standards team tried to work with local agents when the Consumer Rights Act came into force to ensure that they were aware of their responsibilities, to enable would-be tenants to receive the information they are entitled to when choosing which agent to use.”
He expresses: “It’s disappointing that, despite warnings from our Trading Standards team, some letting agents still failed to comply with the new Consumer Rights legislation. However, we hope these fines will send a strong message to letting agents across the borough to get their house in order.”
All 30 letting agents received fines from Trading Standards for their continued failure to comply with the law on displaying fees, two of which appealed to the First-tier Tribunal, but were dismissed earlier this month by the hearing judge.
The judge also ordered them to immediately start displaying fees and display which redress scheme they belong to and whether they offer Client Money Protection, which is also required under the same law.
Letting agents, remember that you must comply with the law on displaying fees or face hefty fines.