This freedom of information request relates to Trading Standards and the level of enforcement activity undertaken regarding the requirement for letting agents to display all relevant landlord and tenant fees both instore and on the company’s website under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This requirement has been in force since 27 May 2015.
1) Is this area of work considered to be a high priority when deciding the allocation of staffing resources by Trading Standards? A) Yes B) No
The Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service (from 1st May the Devon, Somerset and Torbay Service ) aims to be intelligence led and allocates staff resources to projects and investigations in line with the National Trading Standard’s “Intelligence Operating Model”. The part of the Consumer Rights Act referred to does not feature as a specific in the 2016/17 annual operational plan or three year strategic plan. The plans are published at: http://www.devonsomersettradingstandards.gov.uk/about-us/service-plan-policies/
2) Is the current approach to enforcing this requirement proactive, reactive or a combination of the two?
A) Reactive only B) Proactive only C) A mixture of proactive and reactive work.
3) What level of staffing resources were allocated to investigating and enforcing this requirement from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017, measured in full time equivalent (FTE) staff?
A best estimate will suffice. No. of FTE staff: _________________
No staff were specifically allocated to this particular piece of legislation, enforcement and investigation work is allocated across teams where necessary.
4) Do you anticipate the level of staffing resources allocated to this work will increase, decrease or stay the same in 2017/18 and why?
A) Increase B) Decrease C) Stay the same
There are no plans to specifically allocate to this area of legislation. The commissioning of the service to act in Torbay Council area will mean a small increase in staff available, but also a wider geographic area of responsibility.
5) Since May 2015, how many letting agents have been issued with a written warning for failing to display all relevant fees online and/or on the company’s website?
6) Since May 2015, how many letting agents have been issued with a Final Notice and a civil penalty for failing to display all relevant fees online and/or on the company’s website?
7) Of the civil penalties referred to in question 6, what percentage have been paid in full by the recipient?
8) The government have recently announced plans to ban letting fees to tenants. When compared to the current enforcement regime, what impact does the council think this will have in terms of enforcement? A) It will make it more difficult for Trading Standards to enforce the rules B) It will make it easier for Trading Standards to enforce the rules C) It will be similar to the existing arrangements D) We have not yet assessed the likely impact on enforcement