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  • In the Spotlight

    Letting agency posed as a club to avoid rules

    From the Guardian

    Landmark verdict over letting agency that posed as a club

    £42,273 fine marks a ‘major victory’ for all private tenants

    A lettings agency that posed as a membership club to dodge tenancy laws has been fined more than £40,000 in the first prosecution of its kind in the UK.

    Lifestyle Club Ltd pressured tenants to sign a contract without inspecting the terms or the accommodation, charged them a non-refundable “joining” fee and “membership” fee worth a month’s rent instead of a deposit, and directed those who complained to a non-existent redress service.

    The company operated from the same trading address as Lifestyle Club LSC Ltd which was exposed by the Observer last year. While Lifestyle Club LSC marketed the properties – aimed at young overseas renters – tenants’ contracts were with Lifestyle Club Ltd. The terms and conditions reserved the right to evict tenants with seven days’ notice instead of the 28-84 days required by the Tenancy Act.

    Its terms and conditions allowed its agents the right to enter private rooms unannounced at any time while banning visits from non-members. It required tenants to maintain and replace appliances at their own expense, leave any furniture they had paid for when they moved out and levied large fees for “breaches” of membership.

    One group of flat sharers was charged £90 for leaving unwashed dishes in the sink. The companies’ self-employed agents were charged similar levies for breaching sales targets or taking time off.

    Last week the director of Lifestyle Club Ltd, Gian Paolo Aliatis, was required to pay £42,273 in fines, compensation and costs after pleading guilty to three charges of unfair commercial practice. In a prosecution brought by Islington Trading Standards in London, Aliatis admitted passing the lettings agency off as a membership club to avoid the legal regulations for lettings agents.

    Full/source article 

    (*Moderator note:  Copyright means that whole articles cannot be reproduced, so we can only allow an excerpt to be shown*).

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