Rogue letting agents will come under the scrutiny of a new team tasked with policing the private rental sector.
The team’s mission is to target letting agents breaking the new tenant fee ban, which starts from 1 June.
The task force will also check that letting agents in England belong to a redress scheme and comply with client money protection rules, in a crackdown aimed at upholding consumer rights.
National Trading Standards investigators will join the team run by Bristol City Council.
The task force comes from expanding an existing group that polices estate agency standards throughout the UK.
Housing minister Heather Wheeler has given the task force four targets:
- Ensuring estate and letting agents comply with consumer law
- Enforcing prohibition orders and warnings on offenders
- Approving and supervising estate agent redress schemes for consumers
- Informing tenants, landlords and home buyers about their rights when dealing with estate agents and letting agencies
Wheeler said: “We are determined to make the private rented sector a fairer, more accessible market that works for all and I am delighted that local authorities will now be able to access the best advice and information from this new team.
“There is no place for unfair fees – now, with this new enforcement authority, we will be able to stamp them out.”
Heading the new National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team is James Munro, who said: “Bringing the two functions – lead enforcement authority for estate agency work and lead enforcement authority for lettings agency work – under one team will mean there is a single point of contact for enforcement work in this area.
“This single team approach will help us uphold consumers’ rights and enforce the law.”