Two letting agents have been expelled from UK’s largest dispute resolution service The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme following shocking complaints from client tenants and landlords.
The agents are London Corporate Apartments Ltd based in Aldgate in London and Letting Solutions Ltd based in Essex.
Ombudsman Katrine Sporle (pictured) has revealed details of the two cases, both of which highlight the difficulties of policing agents which either refuse to cooperate with dispute resolution schemes such as TPO or which fail to keep adequate administration or financial records.
Cricklewood-based London Corporate Apartments (LCA) has one director – Manchester-based Khaled Abed-Alrazek – whose company was reported to TPO over a disputed deposit. The complainant disputed the deductions made from their deposit and complained it had taken a long time for the rest of the deposit to be returned to them. Complaints of a similar nature are to found online about the company, including several damming Google reviews.
TPO reviewed the complaint and found that the agent fell short of the standards required of members and instructed LCA to pay an award of £340. This LCA failed to do so and the company has now been expelled from TPO for two years.
“Refusing to fully cooperate with a complaint does not make the issue go away,” says Katrine Sporle.
“In this case, I had the rental agreement and other information from the complainant but no information from the agent. I therefore decided that the complainant’s version of events should be accepted and the complaint supported. By refusing to pay the award, the agent is now unable to trade and risks a fine from Trading Standards should they try to do so.”
The other expelled agent is Essex firm Lettings Solutions Ltd (pictured, right), which at the time of the complaint was based in Witham outside Chelmsford and previously traded as Witham Lettings Ltd.
Its one director is Jayne Purdy. Her company was involved in a highly complex case involving three properties. A landlord complained to TPO about Letting Solutions Ltd after discovering that tenants who subsequently disappeared owing rent and leaving behind significantly damaged properties had not been referenced or had proper deposits collected from them by the agent.
Other issues included unprotected deposits, and tenancies that were agreed without the landlord’s approval.
TPO says the case was hampered by the agent’s poor record keeping and financial accounting, particularly when it came to disputed monies owed by Lettings Solutions to the landlord.
“The agent systematically failed to grasp the fundamental legal principle that the landlord should decide who to rent their property to. My investigation found that Lettings Solutions Ltd had failed to follow Code procedures for referencing and documenting tenant applications,” says Katrine Sporle.
The agent was instructed to pay an award of £1,423.74 to the landlord, which it then failed to pay. The company has now been expelled from the TPO and will not be able to register for sales or letting redress for two years.
Both companies’ websites are live and both are listed as active with Companies House. Lettings Solutions’ website also still claims that the company is a member of TPO.