Seven estate and letting agents have been expelled from membership of The Property Ombudsman (TPO) after failing to comply with parts of the TPO Codes of Practice and pay subsequent awards made by the Ombudsman, totalling £112,257.04.
All of the complaints against the agents were in relation to lettings and most involved multiple complaint cases, and all now appear to have stopped trading.
The expelled agents and outstanding awards are:
- Nextmove: £3,256.80 = £2756 outstanding rent plus £500 for distress and aggravation
- Marques Residential Limited: £17,775 = £16775 outstanding rent plus £1000 for distress and aggravation
- Lang and Ward: – £250 – award unpaid and not registered with a redress scheme or a CMP scheme
- William Huxley: £6,583 – two complaints with partial payment of the awards
- TM Estates Limited: £23,700
- Abbey Properties: £400 – not registered with a redress scheme or a CMP scheme
- Berkshire Estates: £60,292.24 – Multiple complaints and unpaid awards*
All of the complaints against the respective agents were independently reviewed and upheld by the Ombudsman, who directed payment of the money to those owed, together with compensation in all the cases. TPO members are required to comply with any award and/or direction given by the Ombudsman and accepted by the complainants. To date, all seven agents have failed to make any payment.
The Ombudsman referred the agent to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled the firms should be expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme. None of the agents are currently registered with a redress scheme, which is a requirement of every sales and letting agent in order to trade legally.
They also do not appear to be members of a Client Money Protection scheme and do not hold any professional memberships. Most no longer have active websites or advertise on any of the main property portals, except for Abbey Properties, which has been reported to Trading Standards.
Gerry Fitzjohn, Non-Executive Director and Chairman of TPO’s Finance Committee: “Cases like these are rare, evidenced by the fact that just 0.1% of all TPO agents are referred to the Compliance Committee. As members of TPO, agents have an obligation to provide a reliable, trustworthy and professional service, and where they are found to fail in this, are obliged to comply with awards made by the Ombudsman.
“Last year 97% of agents paid the awards made. However, in all of these cases, the agents have not co-operated fully and have failed to pay awards made.
“I would like to remind agents of their obligation to co-operate with any investigations by TPO. The Ombudsman requires any evidence they can provide and that is their chance to put across their side of the story. While the vast majority of agents do co-operate, those that do not put themselves at greater risk of having a complaint upheld, when The Ombudsman has only the consumer’s evidence to consider.
“Agents must comply with any award and/or direction made by The Ombudsman against them and pay the Complainant the amount of any such award within the required period for payment. Cases of non-compliance are taken very seriously and are dealt with by our Compliance Committee and/or Trading Standards.”
The Negotiator reported on Berkshire Estates on 5th February 2019 – read it here