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News: Letting agents expelled from from TPO

Sat, 09 May 20

Landlords should be aware that eight estate and letting agents have been expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme (TPO), which means that the firms are not currently registered with a redress scheme, which is a requirement of every sales and letting agent in order to trade legally.

The agents have been expelled from membership of TPO after failing to comply with parts of the TPO Codes of Practice prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

All of the agents have ceased trading, five are in liquidation and all have been referred to Trading Standards.

The expelled agents and outstanding awards are:

Flat Sharing Ltd (trading as Flintons in East London – E3) - £250 unpaid award and in liquidation. 

Complaint over delay in returning security deposit and delay in responding to the tenant’s complaint.

 

SSM2 Limited (trading as Samuel Makepeace Bespoke Estate Agents in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire) - £5000 unpaid award and in liquidation.

Complaint from a buyer over a property advertised as having a third bedroom in the loft space, yet the attic conversion did not comply with regulations.

 

Barrington & Blake Estates Limited (trading as Barrington & Blake Estates Limited in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire) - £300 unpaid award and in liquidation.

Complaint from a seller over poor service.

 

Sam Allan Estates Ltd (trading as Sam Allan Estates in Morpeth, Northumberland) – £500 unpaid award and in liquidation.

Complaint from a landlord over the agents approach to referencing.

 

Ronald Davis & Co Ltd (trading as Davis & Co Ltd in Crystal Palace, London) - £1204 unpaid award and in liquidation.

Complaint from a landlord over unpaid rental money and over-charging of fees.

 

Target Estates Ltd (trading as Target Estates in Romford, Essex) - £350 unpaid award and ceased trading.

A complaint from a potential tenant who was not provided with criteria for referencing or for renting a property until after she had paid a holding deposit.

 

Olive Branch Estate Limited (trading as The Olive Branch in Tonbridge, Kent) - £1400 unpaid award and ceased trading.

A complaint regarding the agent’s failure to address maintenance issues which were promised, as well as failure to protect or return the tenant’s deposit.

 

Residential Asset Management Limited (Trading as RAM in Barkingside, Ilford) – £2,830 unpaid award and ceased trading. TPO is aware that a there is a separate registered legal entity now trading from the last known address, using the same trading name. Residential Asset Management Limited has been referred to Trading Standards.

A complaint from a landlord over failure to evict tenants, protect their deposit and other shortcoming.

 

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 or direction given by the Ombudsman and accepted by the complainants.

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 appear to be trading and all have been reported to Trading Standards.

Gerry Fitzjohn, non-executive director and chairman of TPO’s Finance Committee, said: “Cases like these are rare, with only 0.1% of all TPO agents being referred to the Compliance Committee and 98% of agents paying awards that are made.

“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. 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 that where expulsion occurs, our Memorandum of Understanding with the other scheme ensures that these agents cannot register for redress elsewhere at a later date unless any consumer awards outstanding are paid.”

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