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27 rogue landlords and lettings agents fined by Tower Hamlets Council for illegal practices

PUBLISHED: 12:35 18 June 2018 | UPDATED: 12:41 18 June 2018

Renrters launching their campaign in east London in 2016 against lettings agencies' high fees. Picture source: Renters' campaign

Renrters launching their campaign in east London in 2016 against lettings agencies' high fees. Picture source: Renters' campaign

Renters' campaign

Rogue landlords and lettings agents charging hidden fees to renters have been fined a total of £150,000 by Tower Hamlets council, it has emerged.

Mayor John Biggs... “Mayor John Biggs... “"A small number of landlords are acting dishonestly and misleading people looking for a home. Picture: Mike Brooke

The council has been carrying out checks on the 401 landlords and letting agents listed on its database and investigating complaints by private tenants.

Some were not complying with legislation that websites must clearly state if there are any fees on top of renting a property, it found.

“It’s disappointing that a small number are acting dishonestly and misleading people looking for a home,” Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs said. “We are making sure people are not exploited by rogue landlords or letting agents and won’t tolerate those trying to mislead people.”

Other information that must be accessible includes whether an agent is registered with a Client Money Protection Scheme and if a renter’s deposit will be protected by a Tenancy Deposit Scheme—to make sure tenants don’t lose their deposit or have unexpected fees imposed.

Campaign for renters' charter starts with lobby of Tower Hamlets Council in 2015. Picture: Mike BrookeCampaign for renters' charter starts with lobby of Tower Hamlets Council in 2015. Picture: Mike Brooke

The council, which was one of the first local authorities to sign up to the Mayor of London’s ‘Rogue Landlord’ checker last month, has so far fined 27 letting and managing agents for failing to comply with the law, ranging between £1,000 and £10,000. It is shortly carrying out further checks to make sure those who have been fined make immediate adjustments to meet legislation.

The council’s own Renters’ Charter started last summer is being used as a template for City Hall’s Checklist.

A licensing pilot scheme was started in 2017 in Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Shoreditch after a two-year renters’ campaign which began lobbying the town hall. Private tenants won their fight for a charter after campaigning to stop unlawful evictions and exorbitant registration fees by lettings agents, some having to pay up to £900 for two people just to get even a basic property.

Renters lacked protection and could be evicted on a whim. Some were being thrown out for merely complaining about lack of repairs or maintenance.

A council prosecution listed on the London Checker is against two landlords at Clifton House on the famous Grade II-listed Boundary Estate in Shoreditch who left tenants at risk of fire and failed to repair serious leaks. They were fined £13,300 by Thames magistrates in March for 11 offences.

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