A lettings agency in East London is being probed by trading standards officers following a tenant’s complaints about a mouse infestation at a Stoke Newington property, the Hackney Citizen can reveal.
London Corporate Apartments Ltd, which manages properties across the capital, is also not registered with a redress scheme.
The revelation will fuel concern about the behaviour of some agencies and potential vulnerability of London renters. Green Party London Assembly Member Sian Berry is among those who have spoken out over the issue, saying tenants are right to feel hard done by when trying to get redress from “rogue” agents.
London Corporate Apartments’ manager, who gave his name as Josh Suban, said his Whitechapel-based agency was in the process of renewing its membership with one of three government-approved ombudsman services designed to protect tenants by ensuring complaints are dealt with fairly.
But only the Property Ombudsman has any record of the company and confirmed it is not on its renewals list.
A spokesperson for the watchdog said the agency registered with it in May 2015 but its membership was terminated last August “due to non-payment of fees dating back to June”.
This comes after a tenant at a London Corporate Apartments-managed property on Prince George Road in Stoke Newington raised concerns about the company.
She spent just four days at a house she shared with six strangers where there was a mouse infestation and noise disturbances due to a thin partition wall.
She also had safety concerns over the absence of a lock on her bedroom door.
When she told London Corporate Apartments she wanted to quit her contract with her deposit refunded, she claims she was subjected to threats from its staff.
Although her contract with London Corporate Apartments has since been terminated, she is determined to take the company to court if they continue to refuse to pay back her full deposit.
It is understood the lettings agent is prepared to defend itself in court.
Before the contract was terminated, the woman claims London Corporate Apartments “threatened” to forcibly remove all of her belongings if she did not vacate the property immediately and hand over her keys.
Suban maintains this was just “advice” and insisted tenants were the lettings agency’s “number one priority”. He said he was unaware of any action taken against the company by trading standards.
Landlord Shopikul Hoque, with whom the lettings agency signed a three-year deal to manage the Prince George Road property, said: “London Corporate Apartments has told me it doesn’t need to be registered with an ombudsman because it is a service rooms provider and not a letting agent.”
He said he took the company at their word but would “cross that bridge when we come to it” if it turned out they were in the wrong.
He dealt with the mouse infestation, he said, after being informed about it, hiring a pest control company. As for the lack of bedroom locks, he explained that the rooms are not advertised by the lettings agency as lockable and tenants were made aware of this before signing a contract.
He also said he believed the tenant who complained had broken her contract, left without notice and knew about the partition door issue at the time she had signed the agreement with them.
Tower Hamlets Council confirmed its trading standards team is investigating.