Landlords convicted for illegal charges on tenants

11 July 2014

Landlords and letting agents who continue to defy the ban on tenancy fees will face criminal prosecution, it has emerged today. The Scottish Government confirmed in late 2012 that it is illegal to charge tenants for administration, reference checks, credit checks and inventory preparation. If convicted, landlords face a criminal record, a fine of £1,000, and a possible ban from renting out their property.

Last year the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service secured the first ever conviction of this kind. Recently released statistics reveal that a further 15 landlords have faced court for contravening the sections of the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 which prohibit tenancy charges. (source: COPFS)

A campaign led by housing charity Shelter Scotland helped thousands of tenants recover money paid to letting agents to cover administration, referencing, credit checks, and inventory preparation. However, the fees were still commonplace despite government efforts to educate landlords and tenants that only rent and a deposit could be lawfully charged.

A group of tenants formed the Campaign to Prosecute Landlord Fee Fraud after learning in October 2012 that no letting agents had ever been prosecuted. A spokeswoman for the group said:

“it is well known that letting agents charge landlords to market a property – we were fed up with them also charging the tenants  for the same service and collecting double the fee when the government has repeatedly said it is illegal. We were astonished to learn that nobody had ever been prosecuted, simply because tenants didn’t know that these charges should be reported to the police! We have raised awareness via our blog, twitter, door to door canvassing, and local tenants rights groups. Hopefully the prosecutions will help stamp out these unfair charges for good.”

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