Nearly a third of letting and property agents in York are failing to obey housing legislation, despite being given specific guidance on new laws enacted. The disappointing figure was presented to the City of York Council’s Executive Member for Housing at a Decision Session yesterday on the 18 October, where it was also decided that the situation had deteriorated so dramatically that further action had to be taken.
The investigation, which is part of a wider attempt to improve the transparency of the private rented sector in York, primarily dealt with checking housing agents to ensure that they were open and honest about their fees, for example by displaying them prominently in their offices and online. It also looked into whether they dealt fairly with any complaints arising from either landlords or tenants.
The poor results are considered to be particularly shocking since only last year all of the housing agencies in the city were found to be compliant with the law, following advice being given by the council. Of the 47 letting agencies, investigated by officers visiting their offices and surfing their websites, 15, or 32%, were found to be non- compliant. Of those 15 non-compliant agents, seven were failing to display their fees in their office, four were failing to display their fees on their website and five were failing to display fees either in their office or on their website.
In line with government procedure, all 15 agencies failing to uphold the law have been given 28 days to appeal the decision or face a fine of up to £5,000. At the time of writing, two agencies have been fined, one at the maximum level and the other at a reduced level.
Councillor David Carr, the Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods, commented:
“Letting and property agents play a significant part in York’s private rented sector. It is important that it provides and fair and transparent service to all its tenants and landlords and we will continue to advise and regulate agents as the new legislation allows.”
More information about the laws governing housing agencies can be found at https://www.york.gov.uk/info/20097/private_landlords_and_tenants.
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