Largs estate agents struck off after breaching tenancy rules

North Ayrshire Council newA letting agent has been removed from North Ayrshire Council’s landlord register after flouting rules protecting the deposits of tenants.

The council’s licensing committee heard that Colvin Houston Ltd breached rules on tenancy deposits 51 times.

The total value of the deposits affected was over £23,000, while the committee also heard that the company had failed to comply with a recent demand for information from NAC Licensing.

The unanimous decision comes two months after the firm became the first in Scotland to be prosecuted for breaking legislation set up to safeguard tenants’ deposits.

At Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, the firm were fined £750 - which was reduced to £500 for an early plea - for failing to ensure deposits were ring-fenced in independent tenancy deposit schemes and protected by third parties until they were due to be repaid.

The landmark ruling, which was triggered by North Ayrshire Council’s Trading Standards team, was the first time a letting agent has been prosecuted since the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011 was introduced five years ago.

These schemes were established to stop tenants from losing deposits unfairly - but had previously never been used against letting agents.

Housing legislation primarily places the responsibility for securing deposits on landlords. But Consumer Protection legislation was used in this instance, a first, to hold a letting agent responsible for the deposits they took on behalf of their landlords.

Now the council’s licensing committee have followed up the court’s decision by removing the firm from their landlords register.

Andrew Fraser, head of service (democratic services) at North Ayrshire Council, said: “This came about initially from the hard work of our Trading Standard officers who used Consumer Protection legislation to bring the firm to task. That was a victory for all tenants across Scotland. Now we’re delighted that our licensing committee have removed them from the register.

“It shows that we will not tolerate this blatant disregard for hard-working and honest tenants. The most disadvantaged can often be trapped in below tolerable standard housing because they do not know the whereabouts of their deposit. Hopefully, we are leading the way in ensuring that every tenant across Scotland has peace of mind when handing over their deposit to a landlord or letting agent.”

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