Buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords in Ilford, Essex, are being warned that a local estate and letting agent Kingsman Property Limited (trading as Kingsman Property) has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme owing a landlord £14,921.23.
A landlord made a complaint to The Property Ombudsman after claiming that the agent failed to pass on rent owed to him, which had been paid by the tenant.
The landlord had entered into a Guaranteed Rental Income Scheme with Kingsman Property which was meant to ensure that the landlord received the rent every month. The agent also confirmed that they would obtain a multiple occupation (HMO) licence as it was their intention to rent the property to more than two tenants. The landlord received the rent for a period of eight months, but Kingsman Property then stopped paying the rent, resulting in the landlord dis-instructing them. At the time, the agent owed the landlord more than £12,000 in rent.
Unfortunately, by the time the landlord brought the matter to The Property Ombudsman, it transpired that the agent had gone into administration, therefore it was highly unlikely that any award that was made would be recovered, but the landlord asked TPO to proceed anyway.
The Ombudsman concluded that several aspects of the service that Kingsman Property had provided fell considerably short of the standard of service expected under TPO’s Codes of Practice. This included the failure to ensure that the property complied with current HMO regulations, the failure to register some of the deposits that they received and the failure to pay the rent as agreed. The Ombudsman made an award of £14,921.23, which included the rent that had not been paid (£12,421.23), the deposit (£1,000) as well as an award (£1,500) for the avoidable aggravation and distress caused.
Kingsman Property 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.
Kingsman Property is not currently registered with a redress scheme, which is a requirement of every sales and letting agent in order to trade legally*. Trading standards have been informed about Kingsman Property’s expulsion. 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, Zoopla and OnTheMarket.
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 Kingsman Property has failed to do. Although there is no evidence to suggest the agent is still trading as the company has gone into liquidation, we want to make consumers aware in case the agent does appears to start trading again. It is also a reminder to consumers to ensure they use an agent which is a member of a redress scheme which also holds Client Money Protection insurance.”
*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 Kingsman Property Ltd 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.
Awards made by the Ombudsman in 2018 were paid by agents to consumers in 97% of cases. In the few cases where awards remain unpaid, agents are referred to the TPO Compliance Committee, which has the power to expel agents from the scheme. Expelled agents are reported to the appropriate authorities who have the power to ban agents from carrying out agency business.
If TPO becomes aware that an agent under investigation has ceased trading, complainants are promptly informed and, where an award is made, are provided with the necessary documentation to make a claim against that company. TPO’s agreement with the Property Redress Scheme, means that not only will expelled agents not be able to register for any form of redress, but any new company set up by the same directors will not be accepted for redress membership, until the Ombudsman’s award is paid.
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