Is your agency ready for a Trading Standards crackdown this winter?
Earlier this month, a tribunal slapped a London letting agency with a £24,000 fine for breaching Client Money Protection (CMP) rules. The firm had previously been part of an approved CMP scheme through one of its directors, but when he quit, the company was left with no CMP coverage.
Letting agencies in England must join an approved CMP scheme and display their CMP certificate in any public-facing office as well as on their website. Copies of the certificate must also be available on request. Failing to join a CMP scheme can carry a fine of up to £30,000. Failing to display or provide a certificate – even if your agency is in fact a member of a scheme – can also come with a fine of up to £5,000.
Under the CMP rules, agencies must also hold all client money in accounts with a bank or building society registered with the Financial Conduct Authority – a requirement that PayProp accounts fully comply with.
Not just a one-off
The chair of the London Trading Standards Lettings Group described the case as a landmark, and said it was reassuring that tribunals were taking a firm line. Since the rules came into force in 2019, Trading Standards officials in London have fined agencies more than £3 million for CMP breaches.
Trading Standards teams are on the hunt elsewhere too. Letting agents in Stoke-on-Trent have been given notice about increased enforcement in the city as part of a wider compliance crackdown across the West Midlands.
But while Trading Standards is making headlines with landmark CMP fines, enforcement elsewhere is lacking. A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities report released in June found that many local authorities only have enough enforcement capacity for “fire-fighting”. Propertymark has called for more funding to enforce the Decent Homes Standard and create a level playing field in the private rented sector.
Other enforcement headlines
Property Natter – day in the life of a NTSELAT policy manager – Estate Agent Today
BTL landlord fined £12,400 over unlicensed HMO – Property Industry Eye