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Trading Standards Investigations into Lettings Agents and Property Managers

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Dear Portsmouth City Council,

Would you please supply the following information under the Freedom of Information Act.

The number of trading standards investigations carried out in relation to letting agents and property management companies in the past 5 years. If the number of investigations is less than 15, please extend the period to 10 years.

With the data please expand using the following criteria:

What was the exact nature of those investigations and outcome on a case by case basis and who were the alleged offending agents involved in those cases. With this in mind please clarify the investigations using the following format taking note of the examples.

Date: xx/xxxx
Company: ABC Agents
Offence/s: Breach of section xx of xxxx Act /Reg xxxx
Nature of Offence: Misleading action/Omission/Money Laundering/Failure to Register for Redress Scheme
Action Taken: Warning Issued/Court Proceedings Taken (Outcome)/ Referred to Police/SFO/CMA/ Or Relevant comment

Date: xx/xxxx
Company: (Under Investigation)
Offence/s: Breach of section xx of xxxx Act /Reg xxxx
Nature of Offence: Misleading action/Omission/Money Laundering/Failure to Register for Redress Scheme
Action Taken: Under Investigation/Proceeding With Court Case/Referred to Police/SFO/CMA/Or Relevant Comment

It is understood that disclosure of any company’s details is not covered by the DPA and therefore cannot be withheld unless there is a current ongoing investigation (not outstanding due to disapeearance) against the company. In stating this exception only applies to ongoing investigations and does not preclude the company being named relating to previous investigations. If there is an ongoing investigation then please indicate the investigation type and omit the company’s name.

Finally, the release of this information is in the public interest and appreciate your cooperation in this matter.

Yours Sincerely,

M Doyle

FOI, Portsmouth City Council

1 Attachment

 
 

Information Governance
Community & Communications  Services
Civic Offices, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, PO1 2AL
Telephone:    023 9268 8482
                                               

                                                                       
 
Reference: FOI2017/1479
 
Dear Mr Doyle
 
 
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
 
Thank you for your request for information received on 17th November 2017.
 
Your request is being considered and, subject to the points made below,
you will receive the information requested as promptly as possible within
the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.
 
If we need to obtain more information from you in order to understand what
information you require, we will contact you. If this is the case, the 20
days time limit will not commence until your request has been clarified.
 
The Act defines a number of exemptions that may prevent release of certain
information.  The City Council will consider whether any of these
exemptions apply and, where required by the Act, whether it is in the
public interest to release the information.  If we have to make a public
interest test, the 20 day time limit might be extended. We will inform you
if the time scale has to be extended and if any information is withheld
and of your rights of appeal.
 
The City Council would like to make you aware that disclosure of
information obtained through FOIA is a disclosure into the public domain.
 
The City Council’s standard approach is to provide the information in the
form in which we hold it.  If you require alternative formats, e.g. audio,
large print, etc. or a different language, please let me know and we will
provide it if reasonably practicable to do so. If your request is a
question and we do not hold the answer in recorded form we will try and
provide an answer where we are able unless it requires the creation of new
information.
 
There may be a fee payable for this information request and we will send
you a Fees Notice if this is the case. Any fee must be paid before the
request is provided.  The time between the issue of the Fees Notice and
receipt of payment is excluded from the calculation of the 20 working day
time limit.
 
Any personal information you provide in relation to this request will only
be used for the purposes of processing your request for information.
 
If you have any queries or concerns then please contact the Corporate
Information Governance Officer at Portsmouth City Council, Civic Offices,
Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 2AL, telephone 023 9268 8482,
e-mail [1][email address].
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
 
                                                                                               
           
Wendy Burton
FOI Officer
 
 
 

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FOI, Portsmouth City Council

1 Attachment

 
Information Governance, Community & Communications Service
Civic Offices, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, PO1 2AL
Telephone:    023 9268 8482
 
 
Our Ref: FOI2017/1479
 
Dear Mr Doyle
                                   
INFORMATION REQUEST – FOI2017/1477 - Trading Standards Investigations into
Lettings Agents and Property Managers
 
Thank you for your request for information received on 17th November 2017,
which was considered under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 
 
In accordance with the Act, Portsmouth City Council confirms it holds the
information in part.
 
YOUR REQUEST:
 
Would you please supply the following information under the Freedom of
Information Act.

1. The number of trading standards investigations carried out in relation
to letting agents and property management companies in the past 5 years.
If the number of investigations is less than 15, please extend the period
to 10 years.

With the data please expand using the following criteria:

2. What was the exact nature of those investigations and outcome on a case
by case basis and who were the alleged offending agents involved in those
cases. With this in mind please clarify the investigations using the
following format taking note of the examples.

Date: xx/xxxx
Company: ABC Agents
Offence/s: Breach of section xx of xxxx Act /Reg xxxx Nature of Offence:
Misleading action/Omission/Money Laundering/Failure to Register for
Redress Scheme Action Taken: Warning Issued/Court Proceedings Taken
(Outcome)/ Referred to Police/SFO/CMA/ Or Relevant comment

Date: xx/xxxx
Company: (Under Investigation)
Offence/s: Breach of section xx of xxxx Act /Reg xxxx Nature of Offence:
Misleading action/Omission/Money Laundering/Failure to Register for
Redress Scheme Action Taken: Under Investigation/Proceeding With Court
Case/Referred to Police/SFO/CMA/Or Relevant Comment

It is understood that disclosure of any company’s details is not covered
by the DPA and therefore cannot be withheld unless there is a current
ongoing investigation (not outstanding due to disapeearance) against the
company. In stating this exception only applies to ongoing investigations
and does not preclude the company being named relating to previous
investigations. If there is an ongoing investigation then please indicate
the investigation type and omit the company’s name.
 
 
OUR RESPONSE:
 
In the last five years Trading Standards has investigated two cases of
Letting agents failing to safeguard deposits as required.

Due to database transitions, specific dates and data relating to these
cases are no longer held by the council.
 
In order to be of assistance to you, we can advise however that both cases
were ultimately referred to the police. One case was successfully
prosecuted:
[1]http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/our-region/p....
We do not hold any information indicating that the other case was
prosecuted.
 
We can confirm that we do not hold any further information in relation to
this matter due to the reasons explained above.
 
Under the Re- Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 (SI
2015/1415) the supplied information may not be re-used without obtaining
the permission of Portsmouth City Council.
 
You have the right to appeal against this decision or to complain about
our treatment of your request.  If you wish to do so, please set out in
writing your grounds of complaint and send to the Corporate Information
Governance Officer at Portsmouth City Council, Civic Offices, Guildhall
Square, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 2AL, telephone 023 9268 8482, e-mail
[2][email address].
 
Should you be dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaints decision you
may wish to follow the Portsmouth City Council’s Compliments and
Complaints procedure which can be found on the Portsmouth City Council
website or by contacting the Civic Offices.
 
Once these processes have been exhausted you have a further right of
appeal to the Information Commissioner at:
 
Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner
at:
 
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 0303 123 1113
[3]https://ico.org.uk
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
 
 
Natasha Downer
Corporate Information Governance Officer
 

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Dear Portsmouth City Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Portsmouth City Council's handling of my FOI request 'Trading Standards Investigations into Lettings Agents and Property Managers'.

Would you please clarify the response as I have some concerns.

That you have stated 2 investigations in the past 5 years when the period should be extended to 10 there has been less than 15 investigations

Comparative data from received responses of the 53 requests made to councils in London and other major councils in England indicate that the number should be much higher

The absence of the scant information described is of deep concern and ask to clarify in whose possession is it in or is it mislaid and or lost, internally or externally.

To give you an idea of the information that was expected, I can offer the following example from Leicester which can be found here

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...

Taking the comparative data relating to agents, rental properties and population (Portsmouth has .6 pop in relation) , the expected number of investigations should be in the region of 10-12 .

So you can understand my concerns and request for clarification and the internal review

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...

Yours faithfully,

Mark Doyle

FOI, Portsmouth City Council

[1]FOI image

Customer, Community and Democratic Services
Civic Offices, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, PO1 2AL
Telephone: 023 9268 8482
Fax: 023 9284 1327

Reference: FOI/2017/1479

Dear Mr Doyle

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST

I acknowledge receipt of your e-mail asking for an internal review of the
decision made following your recent request for information.

Portsmouth City Council will convene a panel to investigate your original
request and a response will be sent to you within 20 working days of
receipt of your appeal. If it includes a decision that information should
be released to you, the information will be provided to you as soon as
possible.

If you are still dissatisfied with the response to your request, you can
apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision on whether your
request has been dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the
Freedom of Information Act. The Commissioner will normally require you to
have gone through our internal review process before he considers your
appeal. If the Commissioner finds in your favour, the Commissioner can
require Portsmouth City Council to release the information to you.

The Commissioner can be contacted at the following address:

Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF
United Kingdom

Telephone: 0303 123 1113
[2]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact the Corporate
Information Governance Officer at Portsmouth City Council, Civic Offices,
Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 2AL, telephone 023 9268 8482,
e-mail [3][email address].

Yours sincerely

 

 

Natasha Downer

Corporate Information Governance Officer

 

 

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FOI, Portsmouth City Council

1 Attachment

       
 
 
Information Governance, Community & Communications Service
Civic Offices, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, PO1 2AL
Telephone:      023 9268 8482
Fax:            023 9284 1327
 
Our Ref: FOI20171479
 
22 December 2017
 
 
Dear Mr Doyle
 
FOI INFORMATION REQUEST – Outcome of Internal Review
 
I write to communicate the outcome of the internal review of the response
provided by Portsmouth City Council to you recent request for information.
 
You asked for the number of trading standards investigations carried out
in relation to letting agents and property management companies in the
past 5 years.  We responded by saying that in the last five years, the
Trading Standards team has investigated two cases of Letting agents
failing to safeguard deposits but that due to database transitions,
specific dates and further information relating to these cases is no
longer held by the council.
 
This response has been reviewed and upheld.
 
The Trading Standards team has recently procured a new system to record
such information, however, due to the disproportionate cost of migrating
the historic records, the decision was taken not to do so and therefore
details of prior concluded cases are not held. The limited information
regarding the two claims given in our initial response was provided by
virtue of the recollection of the officers in the Trading Standards team.
 
I trust this now concludes this matter, however, if you remain
dissatisfied, you may report your concerns to the Information Commissioner
at the following address:-
 
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 0303 123 1113
[1]https://ico.org.uk
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
 
 
 
Helen Magri
Corporate Information Governance Officer
 
Portsmouth City Council
Civic Offices
Guildhall Square
Portsmouth
PO1 2BQ
 
T:  023 9268 8482
E:  [2][email address]
E:  [3][Portsmouth City Council request email]
[4]www.portsmouth.gov.uk
 
 
 
 
 

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