Agents worried by ‘under-hand’ compliance email from Trading Standards
Agents have reported being targeted by a regional Trading Standards body that claims their company could be in breach of key industry legislation, suggesting heavily that they complete a £150 compliance course.
The emails have been sent in the name of Trading Standards South East Ltd (TSSE) which is a partnership of 19 local authority Trading Standards Services in the South East of England.
Each email, sent to selected bosses of estate agencies in the region, suggests their websites are non-compliant with one or more set of legislation including the Tenants Fees Act and Consumer Rights Act but also associated Property Redress and Client Money Protection rules.
The somewhat threatening email then goes on to say: “Trading Standards officers had expressed concern that a significant number of letting agents were not compliant with the legislation.
“We undertook work on behalf of Trading Standards authorities to check that your website, and others, were compliant in all areas.
“A breach in legislation could result in a penalty notice of up to £30,000.”
TSSE says over 3,600 businesses were checked in the South East region and over 84% were highlighted as potentially being liable to a penalty notice.
Its email adds: “However, given the need for wholesale improvement in the sector, we have developed an online training webinar to help you and other businesses understand the legislation and comply with all the relevant requirements.
“By participating in this voluntary training, you will not be listed as a business that requires a visit at this stage, and there will be an opportunity for you to check for yourselves that you fully comply, to avoid the need for any future intervention by Trading Standards.”
One agent in Buckinghamshire has told The Neg he thought the email was ‘underhand and scare-mongering’ and that the email had the ‘air of an email scam’.
We asked for comment from TSSE, whose head of operations Gaynor Jackson said: “Given the scale of non-compliance across the South East, we developed an online training webinar to assist with the wholesale improvement of the sector to help businesses understand the legislation and comply with all the relevant requirements, thus negating the need to refer the businesses for any future intervention by Trading Standards”.