The probe follows last week’s C4 Landlords from Hell programme, and shows one rental manager who was secretly filmed explaining he could harass problematic tenants by changing locks, calling them all day and lying to the police that they were running a brothel.
The housing charity Shelter and the National Association of Estate Agents have condemned the ‘shocking’ practices uncovered by BBC London and are calling for tougher regulation.
The investigation showed several agents breaking the law on compulsory tenancy deposit protection, with one agent saying: “We don’t have to do this.”
Another agent revealed he had to register the deposit but advised the reporter posing as a landlord to break the law. “I am telling you face to face – don’t bother to do that scheme. Ninety per cent of landlords don’t do it. Just keep quiet about it, you’re wasting money.”
The BBC said its investigators have spoken to ‘numerous’ tenants suffering problems with agents and landlords over deposits.
One woman from north London, who is in the middle of a deposit dispute and does not want to be named, said her letting agent had harassed her.
One lettings rental manager said: “I just turn their lives like hell. We call them every five minutes, we send some people to knock on the door. We change sometimes the locks. To make them just hate the life here.
“Reports to the police, they run for business, just like prostitutes and stuff. Then the police come.”
Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the NAEA and ARLA, told the BBC: “What this investigation has uncovered is really quite shocking – the concern is the tenant is being left open to total abuse.
“It’s horrifying, some of the things we’ve seen.”
The BBC named four agents in its investigation: Eurogulf, Ameen Lettings, Delta Lettings and In House Lettings.
Steve Harriott, chief executive of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, said all tenants should check whether their tenancies had been registered and their deposits protected.
He said: “If tenants cannot get evidence that their tenancy is protected, they should seek advice from ourselves, a lawyer or a housing advice centre. Failing to protect a deposit is a serious matter and one where the courts can award a penalty of up to three times the deposit value.
“Registration is easy to check and should be a first priority for all tenants.”
The BBC report, which for some reason displays a Foxtons sign even though Foxtons have absolutely nothing to do with the story, can be seen here:
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Repost from Lettings Today