An estate agency faces being expelled from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) following a disciplinary hearing.
Acorn Lettings Midlands Limited based in Leicester and its sole director Richard Hopwood faced formal charges at a RICS disciplinary hearing on the 13th and 14th October, details of which have now been published on the RICS website.
The charges against Hopwood are that, between 21st January 2016 and 28th February 2017 he transferred or instructed to be transferred £10,500 of client money to the office account of his company for the purposes of a ‘firm loan’ when he was not entitled to do so.
The disciplinary hearing found that it was proved Hopwood showed either a lack of integrity or “reckless disregard for his professional obligations” when moving the funds, and that he also failed “to act in a way that is consistent with his professional obligations in that he failed, in his capacity as the principal of the Firm, to ensure that [it] preserved the security of clients’ money entrusted to its care in the course of business”.
The RICS disciplinary panel judged that Hopwood will now face as-yet undisclosed disciplinary action.
But his company also faced a formal charge of failing to preserve the security of a client’s money entrusted to its care, contrary to Rule 8 of the RICS Rules of Conduct for Firms 2007.
This was proved and the company now faces expulsion from RICS.
The case of Hopwood and his company comes exactly a year after Countryside was censured by a RICS disciplinary hearing over a comparable case, although it involved transferred client funds totalling £10 million.