Islington letting agent fined for “ghost-listing” flats not available for rent
Islington Council has successfully prosecuted a letting agent who advertised rental flats that were not on the market – a practice also sometimes known as “ghost-listing”.
Down2Town Ltd of 96 Caledonian Road, N1 9DN, and its director Mr Ilshad Ali Sumum, were left with a total bill for £6,600, including fines and costs, following the council’s action.
Islington’s Trading Standards team was contacted last year after a concerned resident noticed their home was listed for rent on the Zoopla property website, even though the property was not actually available.
Investigations revealed that the letting agent had entered into an unwritten agreement with a landlord to let out a different home in the same block, near Holloway Road.
However, the agent also went on to falsely list other flats in the block – including the home of the concerned resident – as available for rent. These false listings kept the block near the top of the search on the Zoopla website, which helped to market the flat which was actually available for rent.
On 31 May 2016 at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court Mr Sumum pleaded guilty to two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. He and Down2Town Ltd of 96 Caledonian Road, N1 9DN were each fined £2000, each ordered to pay costs of £1,250, and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £100, a total of £6,600.
Cllr Diarmaid Ward, executive member for housing and development, said:
“More and more Islington residents rent in the private sector, and we want to make sure they have decent homes and are treated fairly.
“In this case, flats were falsely being advertised for sale, a practice sometimes also known as ghost-listing. This not only misled those looking for homes to rent, but also caused understandable distress among the residents who discovered their homes were being marketed without their knowledge or consent.
“Most letting agents in Islington behave responsibly, but we will take action against those who break the law.“
If you have concerns about the practices of a letting agent, please contact Citizens Advice 03454 040506.