Neighbourhoods Cabinet Member – Minutes – 24 February 2016

34 (34) PENALTY NOTICE – LETTING AGENTS – The Director of Places submitted a report seeking approval for the level of Penalty Notices for letting agents who failed to display fees.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force last year. One of the new requirements was for letting agents to display their fees on their premises and websites.

It was the responsibility of the Local Weights and Measures Authority (Trading Standards) to enforce these provisions in relation to the display of fees by letting agents.

The enforcement sanction for non-compliance was by way of a Penalty Notice. It was for individual councils to set the level of the Penalty Notice, up to a maximum of £5,000.  Legislation stated when setting the fee, councils should consider the relevant Government guidance. The guidance indicated the level of penalty a council should set towards the statutory maximum.

Before a council could give a letting agent a Penalty Notice, they must first give a notice of intent. This should state what the issues were, what action needed to be taken and give them 28 days in which to comply. Penalty Notices were used as a last resort. For this particular piece of legislation, they were used in place of normal criminal proceedings through the courts. As such, a case file would be submitted via the normal legal channels requiring appropriate authorisation by designated officers prior to issue.

The legislation did allow a letting agent to appeal the issue of such a notice. There was the option to reduce the penalty amount if it was deemed appropriate.

Resolved – That the proposal to set the Penalty Notice level at £5,000 in line with Government guidance be approved.