Eight estate and letting agents have been expelled from membership of The Property Ombudsman (TPO) after failing to comply with parts of the TPO Codes of Practice*. 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 and/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: “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.”
*Please note the expulsion of these agents is as a result of events prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Property Ombudsman will be taking into account challenges faced by agents for any complaints received during this period.
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