A sales and lettings agent in Slough, Saville Park Ltd, has been excluded from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) for failing to pay an outstanding award of £300.
The Property Ombudsman received a complaint from tenants relating to repairs and maintenance of their rental property, the provision of documentation, the end of tenancy procedures, provision of the landlord's details and complaints handling.
The Ombudsman was not satisfied that Saville Park Ltd had met their obligations under paragraph 14b of the 2016 Lettings Code as she could not determine what actions the agent had taken when the tenants reported issues or that the agent had kept them updated.
The Ombudsman was also unable to determine that the agent had provided statutory documentation prior to the start of the tenancy (required under Paragraph 11c of the Codes), was critical that the agent had not clarified the end of tenancy procedures as required and had not responded to the tenants’ complaint. Saville Park Ltd was also criticised for not responding to a formal request for the landlord's details which they should have done by law, and did not explain that the tenants were not entitled to this once the tenancy had ended.
The Ombudsman considered that the issues raised had caused the tenants some avoidable aggravation and the complaint was supported with an award of £300.
Saville Park Ltd failed to pay the award made and the Ombudsman referred them to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled that they should be excluded from The Property Ombudsman scheme.
The Property Ombudsman has been unable to determine whether Saville Park Ltd is still trading or whether it holds CMP membership. The agent does not appear to be using any property portals, such as Rightmove or Zoopla.
As part of TPO’s process, notification of this expulsion has been shared with all relevant bodies, including both Local and National Trading Standards.
Gerry Fitzjohn, Non-Executive Director and Chairman of TPO’s Finance Committee: “As a member of TPO, agents are obliged to fulfil direction and comply with awards made by the Ombudsman, which Saville Park Ltdfailed to do. Whilst this is extremely frustrating for these tenants who have not received the compensation they deserved based on the shortcomings in the agent’s service, we would point out that of the thousands of awards made by TPO in consumers’ favour every year, less than 2% go unpaid. Most agents will fulfil their obligation to pay an award made by TPO.
This is why it is imperative that consumers always 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.
*Full list of Client Money Protection schemes, is:
Money Shield, Client Money Protect, safeagent 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