East London agent expelled from The Property Ombudsman following tenant dispute

Published on Thursday, 22 March 2018. Posted in Press Releases

Buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords in and around Canary Wharf are being warned that a local agent has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme following a consumer dispute.

Buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords in and around Canary Wharf are being warned that a local agent has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme following a consumer dispute.

Wincon Limited failed to respond to TPO correspondence or then to pay the award of £425 to the complainant. The case was referred to TPO’s Disciplinary & Standards Committee (DSC), which ruled the firm should be expelled from TPO for one year.

TPO operates the UK’s largest property redress scheme and was asked to review a dispute by a tenant who had rented a property through the agent.

The Ombudsman supported four aspects of the complaint, and found the agent had failed to:

  • Advertise the property correctly: It was described as a two-bedroom flat when in fact it was a three-bedroom flat and the third room had already been rented out by the agent
  • Disclose that VAT was payable on top of the stated administration fee
  • Protect the tenant’s deposit within the required 30 days of the tenancy commencing or provide the information prescribed by law
  • Communicate appropriately or with timely responses

Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman, said: “This complaint highlights the important responsibility agents have to effectively communicate with their clients, whether landlords, tenants, buyers or sellers, to ensure disputes are resolved. Many of the issues raised in this complaint could have been avoided if the agent had communicated more effectively. In addition, I was not satisfied that the agent’s responses made it clear how the tenant could pursue her complaint with TPO. This falls short of the service agents must offer consumers.”

Raising standards and protecting consumers

All members of TPO are obliged to comply with awards made by the Ombudsman. Agents are also obliged to co-operate with investigations. The Ombudsman referred the agent to the scheme’s independent Disciplinary & Standards Committee (DSC) after it failed to pay the awards.

Gerry Fitzjohn, Chairman of TPO’s Board, said: “Cases like these are extremely rare but TPO offers a free, fair and impartial redress service to protect consumers from unfair practices. This agent’s expulsion means it is illegal for them to trade and we have notified Trading Standards accordingly.”

The agent, which trades as Wincon Properties from 58 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9TP, is still actively listing properties ‘For Sale and ‘To Let’ on its website http://www.winconproperties.co.uk. TPO is therefore warning consumers to be aware that this firm is not registered with a redress scheme, required for every sales and letting agent in order to trade legally*.

Consumers are advised to always check their agent has redress membership so they can have their dispute independently reviewed should a complaint arise.  TPO’s online agent directory enables consumers to search for agents by company name or location - visit www.tpos.co.uk/find-a-member.

*N.B. Every sales and lettings agent in England is required to register with a Government-approved redress scheme, which enables consumers to have their complaint reviewed independently in the event of a dispute arising that the consumer is unable to resolve with the agent directly.

An agreement between the three Government-approved redress schemes means Total Property Management will not be able to register for any form of redress until the award is paid. Redress registration is required for the agents to trade legally.