Two Scottish letting agents and their agency are to pay a former landlord client compensation of £16,000 after their activities were found to have been unregistered and that they broke the country’s Lettings Code of Practice.
The award was handed down by the First Tier Tribunal in Glasgow, which heard how agents Allan Bate and Kevin Valentine had found a tenant for a rural property near Kilmarnock on behalf of its owner and first-time landlord John Brown.
Brown, who is a local builder, had initially met Bate when he was branch manager at the local Martin & Co office.
The estate agency had not been able to find tenants for Brown’s six-bedroom home, which he was hoping to rent out while on a year-long holiday in Australia.
Bate then left Martin & Co and became a referring agent initially for Glasgow agency Pacitti Jones but later set up as Stirling Property Shop (SPS) with a Martin & Co colleague, Kevin Valentine.
A tenant was subsequently found who paid a deposit which was lodged with an authorised service, and who paid his first few month’s rent.
But Brown then became concerned that the property was not being looked after and suspected it had been converted into a cannabis factory.
Police were called, raided the property and discovered it had been significantly modified to grow cannabis plants. Brown has subsequently said the damage totalled £65,000.
Personal items and stock for his business were stolen from a ‘safe room’ totalling several thousand pounds.
To recoup some of these costs, Brown took the agents and their company SPS to the tribunal. After hearing evidence from both sides, it found that Bate and Valentine had carried out letting work whilst unregistered in terms of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 and awarded Brown £10,000 in compensation.
In additional, he received a further £6,000 from SPS for its breaches of Lettings Code of Practice in relation to the late return of the deposit and the management of the property.