Portico Property Limited has been fined for requiring a tenant to pay £195 to leave the joint tenancy on a flat.
The government says such charges shouldn’t exceed £50. If agents like Portico want to charge more they need to property evidence the costs involved.
The tenant challenged the £195 fee in June 2021, and escalated the issue to the Property Ombudsman Scheme.
After that Portico reduced the fee to £50 as a “gesture of goodwill”.
Councillor Darren Merrill, Southwark council’s cabinet member for a safer, cleaner borough, said: “It is disappointing that we had to take action in this case, as the guidance to agents is quite clear. Thankfully, this tenant knew their rights and refused to pay the banned £195 fee. However, it should never have been presented in the first instance.
“We are committed to improving standards in Southwark’s private rented sector. I am pleased that thanks to the work of our trading standards team, this company has been punished for breaching a law that is intended to protect tenants.”
Portico has 15 branches across London, in Acton, Battersea, Bethnal Green, Bloomsbury, Camden, Chigwell, Clapham, Dulwich, Forest Gate and Fulham.
The agent has been acquired by Leaders Romans Group since it made the ill-advised charge, in October 2021.