News item

Islington wins court order forcing letting agent to improve game

Islington Council has won a court order against an Islington-based letting agent forcing them to improve their game.

The council's Trading Standards service took legal action after complaints from tenants and landlords about some trading practices of David Philips Estate Agents.

Concerns were raised about tenants’ deposits not being returned, and rental income not being passed on to landlords, even after written assurances had been given to the council that this would happen.

On 13 June the County Court at Central London sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice granted an order against Mr David Philip Copestake and D P Homes Ltd trading as “David Philips Estate Agents”.

The order requires Mr Copestake and D P Homes Ltd to secure tenancy deposits in a recognised Tenancy Deposit Scheme, and to return deposit money to tenants in a reasonable time.  For full details of the order see Notes to Editors.

David Philip Copestake, Director of D P Homes Ltd who traded from an office at 12 Crouch Hill, London N4 and other premises in Islington, did not attend the hearing. Costs of £6,542 were awarded to the council.

A breach of a court order is contempt of court and could lead to imprisonment or an unlimited fine.

Councillor James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, said: "More and more Islington residents are renting privately - and with so many people being desperate to find a flat, tenants can be exploited by unscrupulous letting agents. We will use the powers we have to make sure agents behave in the right way.

“In this case, the letting agent was using clearly unacceptable practices with some tenants and landlords, so we got a court order to make them improve their game. If they fail to do so they could face an unlimited fine or prison.”

A publication order was also granted against David Philip Copestake requiring him to publish within 21 days, on any website created to market his current or any future business, a prominent notice alerting consumers that an enforcement order has been granted against him with a link to a full copy of the order.

It is believed that both Mr Copestake and DP Homes Ltd no longer operate from any premises in Islington, but the order will apply to any future businesses run by Mr Copestake.

Any business that needs advice how to comply with consumer protection legislation can contact Islington Trading Standards on 020 7527 3198 or at trading.standards@islington.gov.uk.

Residents with a concern or complaint about an agent or landlord can also call the council's "one-stop" number 0207 527 3001.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

On 13th June 2014, following action by Islington Council's Trading Standards Service, the Central London County Court at the Royal Courts of Justice granted an order against an Islington based letting and estate agent Mr David Philip Copestake and D P Homes Ltd trading as “David Philips Estate Agents”. It prohibits the following:

*           Failing to secure tenancy deposits in a recognised Tenancy Deposit Scheme, as required by the Housing Act 2004

*           Failing to return deposit monies due to tenants in a reasonable time

*           Failing to pay rental monies due to landlords in a reasonable time

*           Failing to comply with the requirements of the Companies Act ownership disclosure requirements

*           Failing to inform consumers of the legal entity with whom the consumer is dealing

*           Giving false information about tenancy deposits being secured in a recognised Tenancy Deposit Schemes

*           Giving false information that tenancy deposits are secured

*           Falsely stating that rental agreements or contracts are legally approved when they are not

*           Giving false information about their nature, attributes and rights, including in relation to their identity, status and qualifications.

2.         The order was made under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002 which gives powers to local authorities to obtain an order in civil courts to prevent businesses trading when they are not complying with a range of consumer legislation.

3.         Changes in the Consumer Rights Bill propose to amend the Enterprise Act 2002 and provide an option in these proceedings in relation to individual civil redress. This is not currently available.

4.         For more information about the Consumer Rights Bill, which has its second reading on 1 July in the House of Lords, see http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2014-15/consumerrights.html