The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has published its latest list of agents recently expelled from the scheme.
Between October and December 2022 (inclusive), six agents were excluded from TPO for failing to pay compensatory awards.
Reptons, a sales and letting agent in Stratford. TPO found that Reptons did not abide by the terms of a guaranteed rent agreement, including an obligation to return the property in good condition and pay rent during any void period whilst repairs were undertaken. A lack of rental payments, damage to the property, no rental payments whilst repairs were undertaken were all financial losses to the landlord as a result of Reptons’ shortcomings. A total award of nearly £22,000 was made comprising of £14,300 in rent not paid, a contribution towards repairs, rent payments whilst works were undertaken and an award to reflect the aggravation caused. TPO believes that this agent is still trading. Phone calls are being answered and properties remain active on its website.
Cook Estates, a sales and letting agent in London, SE20. An award was made for failing to transfer rent to the landlord and this remains unpaid. As a matter of best practice, Cook Estates should have transferred rent to the landlord promptly upon receipt. TPO directed Cook Estates to transfer the rental sum of £1,928 plus £500 in compensation. It appears that this agent is no longer trading. Post is being returned to sender, emails are undeliverable and there is no online activity.
Assured Estate Agents, a sales and letting agent in Blackburn. This agent has failed to pay two compensatory awards totalling nearly £6,000. TPO found that in both cases Assured Estate Agents had not paid over money owed. The first was to a tenant who had paid 11 months rent upfront but vacated a month early due to the landlord selling. The second complaint came from a landlord who had not received nine months’ rent, despite the tenant providing evidence that payments had been made. TPO has been advised by the agent that they are no longer Assured Estate Agents Ltd and are now AE1 Lettings Limited.
Vanquish Letting Services Limited, a letting agent in Derbyshire. Following the termination of the management contract, the agent did not provide any written confirmation to outline liabilities for fees and charges to the complainant (the landlord). TPO was satisfied the contract had ended when the tenant subsequently paid rent, meaning the agent was not contractually entitled to deduct their fee when transferring over to the complainant. An award of £100 was made. TPO is unsure if Vanquish Letting Services is still trading, but it appears unlikely with no live properties on online property portals and an undeliverable email address.
Goldfield Properties Limited, a block management in Middlesex. The agent provided no evidence and failed to abide by their obligation to co-operate with TPO’s investigation. TPO therefore supported the complaint from a leaseholder and made an award of £250 for aggravation caused by the agent’s poor communication. TPO is unsure if Goldfield Properties is still trading. It’s listed as active on Companies House and a proposal to strike off was suspended in July 2022 due to an objection.
Ideal Locations Essex Limited (trading as Ideal Location Essex), a sales and letting agent in Illford. The agent provided no evidence and failed to abide by their obligation to co-operate with TPO’s investigation. TPO therefore supported the landlord’s compliant that the agent failed to undertake inspections and made an award of £150. This agent is no longer trading.
Despite an ever-increasing demand for its service (over 45,000 enquiries in 2021), TPO has maintained 99% compliance with Ombudsman awards demonstrating TPO’s effectiveness in ensuring consumers continue to receive appropriate redress. 2,224 financial awards were made to consumers in 2021, 2,193 were paid.
Only 17 awards remained unpaid throughout the year with 14 agents excluded, compared to 19 exclusions in 2020. The Compliance Committee has taken action against all agents that did not comply with the Ombudsman’s decision.
As part of TPO’s process, notification of these expulsions are shared with all relevant bodies, including both Local and National Trading Standards for further investigation.
The memorandum of understanding between TPO and other redress schemes prevents agents from registering with another scheme until outstanding awards have been paid to consumers.
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