LET IT – be known that letting agents can be sanctioned for failing to comply with Tenancy Deposit Scheme rules.
For the first time, a letting agent, rather than a landlord, has been penalised since the introduction of regulations imposing an obligation on a landlord to secure deposits even if that landlord has appointed a letting agent.
Largs-based agents, Colvin Houston, were fined for £750 (reduced to £500 for an early guilty plea) for failing to secure two tenancy deposits on behalf of landlord clients totalling £925.
Trading Standards had received a complaint from a landlord who argued that the letting agent had engaged in an “unfair commercial practice” in terms of the Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Under the 2008 regulations, a commercial practice is considered “unfair” if it fails to meet the special standard of skill and care to be expected in the trader’s field of activity.
Trading Standards successfully argued that paying a deposit into an approved scheme is the standard of care reasonably expected of a letting agent and failure to do so is an offence under consumer law.
Colvin Houston tried to argue that the landlords in question were not consumers but commercial landlords. This was not accepted by the court and a fine was levied.