Please Note: All references to the masculine include the feminine on TPO website and documents.
1. A case in which the Complainants viewed the Property and made an offer based upon what the Agent told them and the details contained in the Sales Particulars. When the viewing took place the Sales Particulars had been endorsed to say that they had not yet been approved by the Seller. When the sale was agreed in the following month the agent issued a Memorandum of Sale to the Complainants and to their solicitor and enclosed a copy of the Sales Particulars which no longer reflected the fact that they had not been approved by the Seller. During the course of the conveyancing process the Complainants' solicitor found that the extent of the Property was not as described by the Agent verbally and in the Sales Particulars. I supported the complaint that the Agent had not taken reasonable steps to ensure that the details provided to the Complainants were accurate and not misleading and made an award of £995 which took into account the Complainants' costs.
2. The Complainants (the Potential Sellers) complained that the Agent had failed to provide professional competent advice in respect of the leasehold status of the Property they were selling. They also claimed that their complaint was not handled in a fair and reasonable manner. It was not disputed that the Property was being sold had a leasehold title, however, I confirmed that it was the Complainants responsibility to ensure that they understood what they were selling and to check the length of the leasehold interest in the Property; there was no suggestion that the Agent was an aware of an issue with the length of the lease or that they misdescribed the Property during marketing. Although it would have been good practice for the Agent to point out to the Complainants to check the length of the lease at the point of instruction, I also expected the length of the lease and extension thereof to be looked into and dealt with by the legal representatives of the respective parties during the conveyancing process, if not already picked up on by the Complainants. Ultimately, it was not the responsibility of the Agent to ascertain the length of the lease on the Complainants' behalf. I was not, though, persuaded that the Agent dealt with the Complainants' subsequent complaint in accordance with their obligations under the TPO Code of Practice and there were delays in providing effective responses. I was also critical of the Agent's inability to record the receipt of a withdrawal/marketing fee, which led to the Agent sending the Complainants unnecessary demands for this payment during the same period. I made an award of £200 for the avoidable aggravation, distress and inconvenience caused by the Agent's shortcomings in communications.
3. In this case, the Complainants (the Potential Sellers) raised complaints concerning the Agent's valuation of the Property and their quarterly marketing fee. I found that in the three weeks between the market appraisal being carried out and the commencement of marketing, the Agent sought to significantly reduce the initial asking price. Whilst there was insufficient evidence to persuade me that the Agent had deliberately recommended an inflated initial asking price, I was not satisfied that the Agent had sufficiently demonstrated care in providing a recommendation as would have been indicated through the use of comparable properties. Therefore, I considered that this would have caused the Complainants aggravation and, to this extent, I supported this element of the complaint. In respect of fees, whilst I was unable to conclude what discussions may have taken place on the subject between the Complainants and the Agent, I found that the Agency Agreement did clearly set out all charges, including the quarterly marketing fee. I considered that the Complainants had a responsibility to ensure that they were happy with what they were signing and considered their signatures to confirm their acceptance of the Agreement. In the circumstances, I was not prepared to question the Agent's contractual entitlement to the quarterly marketing fee and did not support the complaint. Overall, I supported an element of the first complaint concerning the market appraisal and made an award of £100.
4. The Complainant (the neighbour of the Seller) claimed that the Agent had left the front door of the building (in which her property was situated) unsecure when carrying out viewings of a neighbouring property; had left light switches on in the communal areas (adding to her electricity bill); and had damaged the front door by removing a sign she had placed on the inside of it concerning securing the door. I found that there was sufficient evidence to persuade me that the Agent had at times failed to properly secure the front door to the building and had left light switches on in the communal areas. This had occurred even after the Complainant had raised this as an issue with them. I was of the view that this was not in accordance with the Agent's obligation to provide a service that was in line with integrity and best practice and accepted that this would have caused the Complainant some aggravation and inconvenience. However, I was of the view that the sign on the door should have been attached by the Complainant in a manner which would not have caused damage when removed, as it was inevitable that it would have to be removed at some stage. I was of the view that due to the content of the sign the Agent was acting in their client's (the Seller) best interests by removing it from the sight of potential buyers. I, therefore, made an award of £50 in compensation for the aggravation caused to the Complainant in connection with the security of the front door and the lights.
5. In this case the Complainants (the Buyers) believed that the Agent had not put forward their increased offer to the Seller and instead had favoured alternative potential buyers. When they made a complaint the Complainants said that the Agent provided inconsistent responses that included misleading and untrue statements. They also raised communication issues. I was satisfied that the Agent's communication in general was satisfactory given their role at the times in question. However, I was critical that they had not informed the Complainants about the Property being remarketed in accordance with Paragraph 7d of the Code of Practice and supported the complaint to this extent. I was persuaded that the Agent had passed on all offers received to the Seller. I was not provided with any evidence to show that the Agent favoured alternative buyers and I did not support these elements of the complaint. I found the Agent's later complaint responses to be consistent, although the Agent's initial response to the Complainants was ambiguous and lacked detail. I was critical of them for this, however an apology was forthcoming in their further responses and I found this to be reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances. I therefore, did not support this complaint. I made an award of £150 to compensate for shortcomings in not promptly advising about the Property being remarketed.
1. In this case, the Complainant (the Tenant) raised concerns about the conduct of the Agent following the failure of the Landlord to ensure that the Property was ready to move into at the start of the Tenancy and his persistent failure, thereafter, to undertake the agreed repairs in a timely and satisfactory manner. I found that the Agent had failed to treat the Complainant fairly by failing demonstrate to my satisfaction that they notified the Complainant in a timely manner, prior to the start of the Tenancy, that the Property would not be ready to move into. I saw no evidence that the Agent passed the Complainant's requests for maintenance and repairs to be undertaken to the Landlord. In contrast to the Agent's claim that they had done so, the Agent failed to demonstrate that they followed up his intentions and/or progress in this regard in accordance with their obligations under Paragraph 10b of the TPO Code of Practice and updated the Complainant accordingly. My award reflected the cumulative effect on the Complainant of the Agent's shortcomings in communicating proactively with her throughout the Tenancy despite their assurances to the contrary. I was also critical of the Agent's shortcomings in their handling of the complaint. Overall, I made an award of £300 for aggravation, distress and inconvenience.
2. The Complainant (the Tenant) having moved into a new build two bedroom flat, complained that the Agent would not believe him when he initially reported a problem with the heating and it took them over a month to arrange for it to be fixed. The Complainant further complained that following the Agent's attempts to fix the heating by changing the settings on the system, when it was finally repaired, the Property overheated and became uninhabitable. Having considered the communications contained within the Complaints Form and the Agent's Branch File, I was satisfied that the Agent acted promptly and appropriately in relation to the issues raised by the Complainant and that they communicated with the developer to arrange for the problem to be fixed under the terms of the developer's warranty. Although, I recognised the Complainant's frustration with the initial lack of heating and then the excessive heat within the Property, I did not consider that there was any evidence that the Agent had failed in their obligations under the TPO Code of Practice and I was satisfied that any issue the Complainant had was with the Landlord and/or the developer. I did not support the complaint.
3. In this case, the Complainant (the Landlord) raised a number of concerns regarding the Agent she had instructed to manage the Property. I advised the Complainant that the Agent could not be held accountable for any deterioration in the condition of the Property, and that such deterioration should reasonably be expected in circumstances in which a property is let for a long period as was the case in this instance. The Agent was, however, unable to demonstrate that periodic inspections had been carried out at the Property as per their Terms of Business, and I considered that the Agent had failed to ensure that maintenance issues were addressed in a timely manner. I supported the complaints made regarding these matters. I also criticised the Agent for failing to ensure that the contact details they held for the Complainant were correct and for repeatedly attempting to contact the Complainant at an incorrect email address. This error led to the Complainant being unaware that the Tenancy had come to an end, however, the Agent had not attempted to contact the Complainant by any other means for some two months. I considered that the Complainant had been disadvantaged by these matters and by shortcomings in the Agent's handling of the check-out inspection. I supported these complaints. Accordingly, I made a compensatory award of £400.
4. In this case the Complainants (the Prospective Tenant and the Guarantor) agreed to a tenancy on the basis of paying one month's rent and a six week deposit, in advance. They duly paid a £500 holding deposit, however, on the same day the Agent advised that they had failed referencing, accused the Complainants of providing false information and stated that the Landlord would only proceed should the Complainants pay six months' rent upfront. Subsequently, the Complainants put forward various offers in an attempt to secure the Tenancy, however, none were accepted. I was not satisfied that these offers, proposed by the Complainants, were put to the Landlord as required by the Code of Practice. The Complainants were not able to agree to the new rental terms and could no longer proceed. Further, I did not find any false information to have been submitted by the Complainants nor had the Agent completed references. I found it was the Agent (on behalf of the Landlord) who had withdrawn from the agreed rental by changing the terms on which it was proceeding and in accordance with the signed holding deposit receipt, the Complainants were due a refund of the money paid. I supported this complaint and directed the Agent to reimburse the Complainants' holding deposit of £500.
5. In this case, the Complainant (the Landlord) raised a number of concerns regarding the Agent he instructed to manage the Property. I identified serious shortcomings in the Agent's referencing of the Tenants, and considered that the Agent had failed to exercise due diligence, as per Paragraph 7a of the TPO Code of Practice, to identify fraudulent information. I supported the complaint raised by the Complainant concerning the Agent's referencing of the Tenants. I also identified that the Agent had failed to serve the Tenants with the prescribed information concerning the security deposit and the terms and conditions of the relevant tenancy deposit protection scheme. I criticised the Agent for exposing the Complainant to risk in that manner, and supported the complaint raised regarding the Agent's handling of the deposit. The Complainant raised a number of other complaints, but I did not identify any further significant shortcomings in the service provided. I advised the Complainant that the Agent could not be held accountable for any failure on the part of the Tenants to adhere to the Terms of the Tenancy Agreement. I made a compensatory award of £700 in respect of the complaints that I supported.