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To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps the Government is taking to protect tenants from (a) landlords and (b) letting agents that are exploiting tenants by (i) misrepresenting properties in online advertising, (ii) unfairly holding deposits after the lease ends and (iii) illegally charging agency fees.
The Government has already taken steps to protect tenants from the small minority of landlords and letting agents that may seek to exploit them. Landlords and agents are responsible for the accuracy of advertisements and listings they post online. Misleading advertisements and listings may constitute a breach of consumer protection legislation, such as the transparency provisions of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
The additional steps Government takes are detailed in the Tenancy Deposit Protection legislation, which allows tenants to challenge their deposit being held unfairly when their tenancies end, with recourse to dispute resolution if there is no agreement on deposit repayment. Additionally under the Tenant Fees Act 2019, which came into force last June, landlords or letting agents are prevented from charging unfair fees in connection with the tenancy.
Landlords and agents can be subject to enforcement action by Trading Standards and fined if they are found to have illegally charged prohibited fees. Trading Standards are supported by a new lead enforcement authority for lettings, the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team, which is funded by Government to provide advice and support to local authorities.