Citizens Advice Bureau defends letting agent “witch hunt”

iStock_000015892112XSmallThe Citizens Advice Bureau has been forced onto the defensive after a Northamptonshire letting agent accused it of "targeting" letting agents.

The controversy comes in the wake of an online survey by the CAB which asked consumers about problems they have had with letting agents, and asks them to name the agent in question.

The criticising agent said: "The Citizens Advice Bureau is a publicly funded body that's supposed to give everyone basic advice when needed. However, here it seems to be deliberately seeking out problems in one particular sector.

"As a taxpayer I'm curious to know why my money is being spent seemingly targeting a specific part of the private sector."

CAB launched the survey with considerable local publicity in the local papers and with a radio interview.

Citizens Advice Bureau respond to accusation

Martin Lord, chief executive of Central and East Northamptonshire CAB, responded to the accusations, saying that the CAB needed to be there to support vulnerable people against those, such as letting agents, who could potentially be in a position of disproportionate influence on their quality of life. He said: "The Citizens Advice network is the UK's consumer champion. We provide advice to people who need help with consumer problems, including issues with landlords, letting agencies, dodgy used cars and cowboy builders.

"Bureaux do vital work to tackle common issues at the root by advocating for changes which will protect consumers.

"Central and East Northamptonshire CAB helps with hundreds of problems with privately rented accommodation every year - including letting agencies - so we know that this is an issue for people in the local area.

He also said that the CAB intended to work with lettings agents, not simply against them: "Through our survey, we want to gather more evidence so we can work with local lettings agents and Trading Standards to nip problems in the bud and make sure renters have all the information they need when they need it"

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