Category Archives: Enforcement

Majority of councils failing to police letting agent fee rules

Letting Agent Fees

New research has shown that 93% of local authorities have failed to issue financial penalties against landlords and letting agents for failing to disclose lettings fees.

Despite the introduction of the requirement for letting agents to publicize fees in May 2015, only three penalty notices have been issued by councils against letting agents. Even more astoundingly only one of the penalties has been paid in full.

The survey of council enforcement of letting agent fee rules was carried out by London Property Licensing on behalf of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS).

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, letting agents must prominently display a list of their fees at each of their offices as well as on their website.

Almost two thirds of councils surveyed admitted they do not consider enforcement of letting agent fee rules as a high priority and 45% of councils said they only undertake reactive enforcement measures.

Lack of resources is the biggest problem cited by local authorities for their failure to enforce letting agency fee rules. Thirty-three percent of councils said they had allocated no staffing resources to this work in 2016/17. A further 62% said they do not anticipate any change in the level of staffing they can allocate to enforcement in 2017/18.

Letting fee ban

NALS says it is concerned about the disconnect between the government’s aspirations and the reality of delivery of enforcement. This is likely to deteriorate further with the introduction of bans on letting agent fees charged to tenants announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

Sixty-four percent of councils surveyed said they are yet to assess the likely impact on enforcement when the proposed ban on up-front letting agent fees charged to tenants is introduced.

Isobel Thomson, NALS chief executive, asks: “We recognise Trading Standards teams are underfunded and under-resourced, but if local authorities aren’t enforcing the current legislation what will make things different when the fee ban is implemented?”

“Without sufficient robust and coherent enforcement action, we will never stop the criminal element in the PRS,” she says.

“They will continue to operate knowing they won’t face any penalty and it’s the consumer who will continue to suffer. We believe now is the time to start a constructive dialogue with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and its members on how we can work together to stamp out the rogues.”

Leon Livermore, chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), adds: “[We] welcome the research produced by NALS and believe that it highlights the issues of the robust enforcement needed for existing regulation that can deliver for the consumer.”

“We look forward to further engagement with NALS.”

CTSI has sent open letters to the political parties underlining that it believes that the current model of trading standards is ‘broken’ and needs to be fixed.

The group claims that under-resourcing and a postcode lottery for protection, alongside a vast remit, means that the model of 192 separate services needs to be changed.

The Renters Alliance helps renters with bad landlords and letting agents. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact the National Renters Alliance through our website or email us at

Full list of local authorities surveyed: Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Devon & Somerset, East Sussex, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Suffolk, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Bolton, Manchester, Oldham, Stockport, Trafford, St Helens, Wirral, Barnsley, Rotherham, Sunderland, South Tyneside, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Walsall, West Yorkshire Joint Services (includes Calderdale), Barnet, Brent, Croydon, Kensington & Chelsea, Richmond upon Thames, Redbridge, Southwark, Bath & North East Somerset, Brighton & Hove, Durham, Herefordshire, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Redcar & Cleveland and South Gloucestershire.

No response received from: Bexley, Birmingham, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, Torbay and Wokingham.

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Rogue landlords who stuffed 31 people into four-bedroom Wembley house found guilty

Garden shed: The only woman at the address was housed in the shack (Brent Council)
Garden shed: The only woman at the address was housed in the shack (Brent Council)

A family of rogue landlords have been convicted of breaching landlord licensing rules after they were caught cramming 31 people into a four bedroom property in Wembley.

Mother and daughter Harsha and Chandani Shah, and Mrs Harsha Shah’s brother, Sanjay Shah, were caught following enforcement action taken by Brent Council at the property on Napier Road during a raid in July last year.

Officers found a woman  living in a lean-to shed in the back garden.  The shack had no lighting or heating and was made out of wood offcuts, pallets and tarpaulin.

Inside the house, officers found some residents hot-bunking with occupants sharing a single bed with night workers swapping sleeping shifts with those who worked during the day.

Four beds were discovered piled into the front room and three in each bedroom. The tenants are all migrants, who said they could not afford to live anywhere else. One of the residents, Bagharad, revealed he lived in the house on Napier Road because he worked as a carer for the elderly and was only paid £30 a day.

The family earned around £112,000 a year from the tenants and were found guilty of breaching landlord licensing rules.

Jaydipkumar Valand, who collected the rent for the Shah family, pleaded guilty at trial in December last year.


Spencer Randolph, head of private housing services at Brent Council, said: “This judgement sends out a clear message that Brent has a zero tolerance policy towards landlords who break the law and exploit vulnerable tenants.

“The lean-to shack we found in the back garden of the property in July last year looked like something you would expect to find in a Hollywood depiction of a shanty town.

“We will prosecute any landlord or agent we find housing tenants in cramped or hazardous conditions.

“Brent’s aim is to help renters by ensuring decent living conditions within the borough.”

On Tuesday 23rd May, the judge at Willesden Magistrates Court said: “This trial has revealed how people desperate for accommodation in London can be exploited and have paid to live in grossly overcrowded, unhygienic and unsafe conditions.”

The judge also ordered the defendants to pay Brent Council £35,000 in costs. The four defendants will be sentenced at a crown court at a later date.

The Renters Alliance helps renters with bad landlords and letting agents. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact the National Renters Alliance through our website or email us at

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North East councils prosecute only one landlord following 6,297 private rental complaints

Complaints_boxA campaigning letting agent has discovered that only one landlord has been successfully prosecuted by North East councils following a tenant complaint between 2014 and 2016.

The shocking statistic was discovered by Ajay Jagota, the director of the letting agency KIS using Freedom of Information requests submitted to Tyne and Wear local authorities.
Mr Jagota found that a total of 6,297 complaints about the condition of privately rented properties or the behaviour of landlords were received in the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 yet only Sunderland council has brought a successful prosecution against a landlord during the period.

Newcastle recorded the highest number of complaints which rose from 1,007 in 2014 to 1,127 in 2016 – a rise of eight per cent. Sunderland saw claims fall from 509 in 2014 to 2090 last year. Gateshead and North Tyneside both saw complaint numbers fall from 2014 to 2015 but rising again in 2016.

South Tyneside council refused to supply the information, claiming that although it holds the information it would take an officer 18 hours to retrieve it, what the authority describes as “substantial effort and disproportionate exercise of trawling”.

“To put these figures into context, every day in every local authority in Tyne and Wear at least one person complains about the condition of their rented home– yet only one rogue landlord has been convicted in three years” says Jagota, who is also founder of deposit replacement insurance product Dlighted.

“A large amount of these complaints will of course be vexatious, unreasonable or more effectively resolved informally, but nonetheless no-one can look at these figures and say the system works” he says.

“With a General Election under way, all the main political parties are making a pitch to voters who rent but despite my own affiliations I have a sense that the proposed policies are just tinkering around the edges when more profound reform is needed.

“It’s critical for all good operators in the private rented sector that the rogues are brought to task and the only way that can happen is that the local authority execute the powers invested in them and ensure they take action when complaints are made.”

The Renters Alliance helps renters with bad landlords and letting agents. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact the National Renters Alliance through our website or email us at

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London landlord who part-owned racehourses fined £200,000 for tax evasion

Rogue landlord convicted of tax evasion

A rogue landlord has received a two year suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay a £200,000 fine for tax evasion and failing to declare he was a company director.

Michael Charles Waddingham had been a director of property development firm Chantry Estates, owned 17 properties and had income of more than £100,000 per year from various directorships.

Waddingham pleaded guilty tax fraud at Kingston Crown Court on 17 January this year admitting he had failed to submit Self Assessment tax returns between 2008 and 2012.

During that time he had failed to declare his rental income and that he was the director of seven land and property development companies.  In addition to his property portfolio he was also the part owner of several racehorses and the director of a betting syndicate which is also a registered UK company.

Following his arrest in 2015, Waddingham’s accountants cooperated with a HMRC forensic accounting team to calculate that £281,000 was owed in Income and Capital Gains Tax.

Waddington paid the unpaid tax to HMRC prior to sentencing at Kingston Crown Court this month. He now has six months to pay the additional £200,000 fine in order to avoid the suspended prison sentence being realized.

Waddington was also given 200 hours of community service and a six-month curfew between 8pm and 5am, enforced with an electronic tag.

The Renters Alliance helps renters with bad landlords and letting agents. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact the National Renters Alliance through our website or email us at

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Nine out of Ten Private Renters In London Have Experienced Serious Problems While Renting

for_saleNine out of 10 of London’s private renters have experienced at least four serious problems during their tenancy, including electrical faults, incomplete repairs and lost deposits. The survey commissioned by the Green Party London Assembly Member Sian Berry, asked 1,530 Londoners about their experiences, with nearly 70% of respondents writing in to share their stories. 

The results corroborate previous reports conducted by the Housing Charity Shelter which in 2014 found 61% of renters had experienced damp, mould, a leaking roof or window, electrical hazards, animal infestation or a gas leak in the previous twelve months.

Private renters often tolerate poor conditions due to the fear of retaliatory (also known as revenge) eviction. Many renters for example fear possible rent increases if they move or do not wish to provide their landlord with a justification for increasing the rent. In high-demand areas, landlords are able to evict tenants without reason and with just two months’ notice.

The recent law banning of revenge evictions  for tenancies starting after 1st October 2015 was hoped to give renters additional protection from eviction. However, many tenants are unaware of their rights. Moreover, the current revenge eviction legislation heavily depends on the tenant to negotiate with their landlord about disrepair before informing the council.

Very often cases are not investigated by local authorities due to lack of council funds and resources.  A recent study conducted by London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon found that the ratio of environmental health inspections to number of private rented sector homes was as high as one in ten in Greenwich, but only one in 689 in Lewisham.

Figures gathered by Radio 1 Newsbeat through Freedom of Information requests show that more than half of local councils across England haven’t used their powers to investigate revenge evictions.

The magnitude of the problems facing the private rented sector were further corroborated by the Living Home Standard report produced by the housing charity Shelter. The report which asked 1,691 adults about their homes, assessed the affordability, neighbourhood, stability and living conditions of private renters.

It concluded affordability to be the biggest issue, saying people should “thrive” in homes, not just “get by”. It also found 24% of people were unable to save after paying their rent or mortgage each month. A further 23% would struggle if their rent or mortgage costs rose. 18% said they had to regularly cut back on food or heating to meet escalating housing costs, with 20% having to sacrifice social activities to meet the bills.

The Renters Alliance helps renters with bad landlords and letting agents. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact the National Renters Alliance through our website or email us at

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Less than 3% of Housing Disrepair Complaints Enforced


The lack of resources available to local authorities to deal with housing disrepair in the private letting sector was exposed yesterday in the House of Lords.

According to the Liberal Democrat Baroness Bakewell, housing complaints totaled 62,818 in 2012-13 which resulted in only 31,634 inspections by local authorities.  Astoundingly, only 1,645 improvement notices were served over the same period. The most common categories of hazards and faults identified in inspections were: damp and mould, excess cold, crowding and space, falling hazards and fire. The powerlessness of many renters is exacerbated by out-of-date legislation whereby  tenants can take action themselves only if their rent is less than £80 a year in London and £52 a year elsewhere.

These findings come as 11 million people now live in private rented accommodation in England, a figure which has almost doubled in the last decade and is set for further increases.

The Baroness claims that Parliamentary research indicated that  30% of private rented properties in England would fail the Government’s decent homes standard. This is almost double the 15% in the social rented sector. Also, despite having the lowest average property standards, the private rental sector is the most expensive housing option.  Private renters now spend an average of 47% of their income on rent compared with 23% of the income of people with a mortgage and 32% of the income for those in the social rented sector.

The Baroness’ comments were made during a committee reading of the Housing and Planning Bill which would establish a database of rogue landlords and letting agents and strengthen the enforcement of pre-existing legislation in the private rental sector among other measures.


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MP Reports only 27% of Poor Housing Reports Investigated by Authorities


Karen Buck, the Member of Parliament for Westminster North has announced that only 14,000 of a total of 51,316 complaints made to councils about poor housing were subjected to a local authority environmental health assessment in 2014.  Ms Buck, has also claimed that on average councils prosecuted only one rogue landlord each year.

The figures were presented in a debate about standards in the Private Rented Sector on February 6th during which Ms Buck asked  whether the statistics provided irrefutable evident that local authorities lack the resources to investigate cases of housing disrepair.

On being asked what measured the Government proposes to adopt to tackle rogue landlords, the Government’s Minister for Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis, claimed that enabling councils to issue civil penalties amounting to up to £30,000 and remedy payment orders for up to 12 months proposed under the Housing and Planning Bill would give councils extra resources to improve housing conditions.

Also participating in the debate was the Labour Member for Hampstead and Kilburn, Tulip Siddiqm who claimed that many of his constituents who rent privately have reported being the victim of revenge evictions despite the banning of retaliatory eviction in 2015.

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