Buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords in Isle of Dogs, London, are being warned that a local estate and letting agent, Property 24/7 Limited, trading as Property 24/7, has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme for failing to pay an award of £500 made by the Ombudsman. This means the agent can no longer legally trade until the outstanding award is paid.
Tenants made a complaint to The Property Ombudsman stating that Property24/7 had failed to register their deposit with a deposit protections scheme within 30 days, did not communicate with the landlord over the tenants’ requirements for furnishings and pre-tenancy repairs and failed to respond to their communications.
Property 24/7 did not cooperate with TPO’s review of the case, in that they did not provide their branch file. The Ombudsman supported all three elements of the case and made an award of £500. The agent’s membership of TPO had ceased at the date of review but the events occurred during their period of TPO membership. The agent’s membership was then reinstated upon payment of renewal within the ‘grace period’
Property 24/7 failed to pay the award and The Ombudsman referred the agent to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled the firm should be expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme. Property 24/7 is not currently registered with a redress scheme, which is a requirement of every sales and letting agent in order to trade legally*. They also do no not appear to be a member of a Client Money Protection scheme, also a legal requirement, do not have any professional memberships or advertise on the any of the main property portals, Rightmove and Zoopla. The agent has been referred to trading standards and complainants have been advised of potential problems with award enforcement and the fact there is an active proposal to strike Property 24/7 off Companies House register.
Gerry Fitzjohn, Non-Executive Director and Chairman of TPO’s Finance Committee: “As a member of TPO, agents are obliged to comply with awards made by the Ombudsman, which Property 24/7 has failed to do. Whilst the company’s website www.property-247.com no longer appears active, we want to make consumers aware in case they appear to start trading again. It is also a reminder to consumers to ensure they also use an agent which is a member of a redress scheme (The Property Ombudsman or The Property Redress Scheme) and holds Client Money Protection**.
*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 two Government-approved redress schemes (The Property Ombudsman and The Property Redress Scheme, means Property 24/7 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.
**Full list of Client Money Protection schemes, is: Money Shield, Client Money Protect, NALS Client Money Protection, Propertymark, RICS, UKALA Client Money Protection
For press information, please contact:
The Inhouse Way Tel: 01276 804411 Helen Evison: 07920 516 577 Holly Addinall: 07979 537 334
NOTES TO EDITOR:
What is The Property Ombudsman?
The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme offers an independent and impartial dispute resolution service to consumers who have been unable to resolve their disputes with a registered agent. The scheme was established in 1990. The Ombudsman can provide redress to place the consumer back in the position they were before the complaint arose, achieving a full and final settlement of the dispute and all claims made by either party. Where appropriate, the Ombudsman can make compensatory awards in individual cases up to a maximum of £25,000 for actual and quantifiable loss and/or for aggravation, distress and/or inconvenience caused by the actions of a registered agent.
TPO is funded through membership subscriptions and case fees and is free to all consumers.
At 31 December 2018 over 15,897 sales offices and 14,746 letting offices were registered with TPO.
Whilst TPO charges registered agents an annual subscription, the Ombudsman is accountable to the TPO Board which is chaired by a member of the House of Lords and with the majority of its members being independent from the industry.
The Ombudsman is not a regulator and does not have the authority to take regulatory or legal action against a registered agent. However, registered agents can be referred to the TPO Compliance Committee, which has the power to expel agents from the scheme and/or report them to the appropriate authorities, with the power to ban agents from carrying out estate agency business.
The Ombudsman's Terms of Reference, Codes of Practice, Consumer Guides and other documents about the operation of the scheme are available on our website (www.tpos.co.uk), together with previous annual and interim reports, case summaries, further explanation of governance arrangements and a full list of registered agents.
For more information about TPO, please visit our website at www.tpos.co.uk