Holloway Road letting agent first in UK to be convicted of issuing ‘sham licences’
- Credit: Archant
An Archway letting agent has been billed £20,000 after giving tenants “sham licences” that claimed they had no right to challenge eviction.
It’s believed to be the first prosecution of its kind in Britain.
The documents issued by Green Live Ltd in Holloway Road also gave two tenants in Rowstock Gardens, Holloway, no statutory protection for deposits, Islington Council said.
The victims first contacted the town hall last year because they couldn’t get their deposits back from the company.
The council’s Trading Standards team then launched an investigation that led to the prosecution.
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At Highbury Magistrates’ Court on Thursday last week, Green Live Ltd – which had been trading as Green Live Estate Agents – pleaded guilty to two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
The company also pleaded guilty to a further offence of using a letting agency association logo where it was not a member.
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Green Live Ltd was fined £11,000 for the two sham licences issued and £5,000 for the misuse of a logo.
The two tenants who fell victim to the scam were awarded compensation totalling £3,000 and the council was awarded costs of £1,500.
When a sham licence is issued instead of a tenancy agreement, the occupier is made to believe they have, in theory, no right to challenge an eviction or be given legally defined notice periods or minimum occupancy periods.
And, if the agreement is not a tenancy, the occupier does not benefit from the statutory deposit protection schemes.
Islington’s housing boss Cllr Diarmaid Ward said this week: “We want everyone in Islington to have a decent, secure home, and to be protected from illegal and precarious housing conditions.
“This case, which we believe is the first of its kind in the country, shows we will take action where letting agents break the law and issue sham licences.
“We will not tolerate illegal practices like sham licences in Islington and if we become aware of any similar cases we will investigate with a view to prosecution.”
If you are a tenant or potential tenant in Islington who believes they have been offered a sham licence, you can contact the housing team on 020 7527 6371.