A North-East lettings agency, Let Belle Vue, has been fined £3,000 for failing register with one of the government approved schemes.
Since the Lettings Agency Work and Property Management Work Order came into force in October 2014, all letting agents must by law to protect customers by signing up top one of the schemes.
Let Belle Vue lettings and property management operating in Darlington had received a warning from Darlington Borough Council allowing the agency a grace period to join an approved scheme. They were subsequently given the fine after a three-month deadline to register with a redress scheme expired.
Agency redress schemes are designed to ensure that any unresolved disputes between private tenants or landlords and their letting agents can be handled by an independent ombudsman or resolution dispute service.
Reported by The Northern Echo, Councillor Chris McEwan, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for economy and regeneration, said:
“Access to a redress service is very important to private tenants if a problem does arise.
“The vast majority of local lettings agents signed up to a redress scheme voluntarily before the legislation was introduced.
“We take the rights of tenants very seriously and so we took action against the small number that did not ensure that tenants and landlords can get an independent redress if they have a complaint.”
Let Belle Vue had appealed the fixed penalty charge from the Council, but the fine was upheld by an independent tribunal who finding in favour of the authority.
David Burrell, a private sector housing manager, told The Northern Echo:
“The council has a duty to act where letting agents and property management agents fail to register with an approved redress scheme.
“Although we will always try to work with agents to help them, legal action will be taken where they fail to adhere to legal requirements.
“The costs are small in comparison to the fines available.”
Let Belle Vue has since registered with an approved redress scheme.
Letting agency fined over redress scheme https://t.co/jRL7UBzGHS
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) April 28, 2016