A Derbyshire property agency has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme after failing to pay an award made against it.
TPO had delayed the expulsion of Letzlet Ltd, trading as Beechwood Lettings, while the complainant was helped to obtain a court judgment of £2,176, including court costs, against Letzlet Ltd, of Beechwood House, Matlock Street, Bakewell.
The TPO Disciplinary and Standards Council notified the agency of its expulsion in February and, as it has not responded, the expulsion has now been confirmed to agency owner Ms H Gregory.
The agent had failed to pay an award of £1,226, which included £976 in rent owing, had delayed paying rent into the complainant landlord's account on 12 occasions over a period of 19 months. It failed to cooperate with the Ombudsman's investigation and also breached the TPO Code of Practice by not having a complaints system in place.
The company had applied for its TPO membership to be transferred to Beechwood Property Portfolio Ltd from Letzlet Ltd, which had traded as Beechwood Property Sales. This application was made five months after the change of holding company and the new company has never completed registration with TPO.
Beechwood Property Portfolio is currently advertising properties for sale on its website and illegally displaying the TPO logos for both sales and lettings. It is not registered with an approved redress scheme, as it is required to do under the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007.
On the afternoon of March 28, Helen Williamson at its Matlock office confirmed by telephone that the company was still selling and letting properties across most of the Peak District.
'Only two weeks ago, the Ombudsman, Christopher Hamer, made a renewed call for all lettings agents to be regulated in the same way as residential sales agents and when you look at the behaviour of this firm it's easy to see why regulation is essential,' said Gerry Fitzjohn, chief operating officer of The Property Ombudsman.
'It is not at present compulsory for letting agents to register with a redress scheme and, at the very least, we firmly believe the law should be revised to require this.
'Almost 9,000 letting agents are voluntarily signed up to our scheme and it's easy to check the membership status of anyone displaying a TPO logo for sale or lettings by a simple search at www.tpos.co.uk
'This agency will be reported to the local Trading Standards team, who have the power to serve a fixed penalty notice for a £1,000 fine if this agency offers houses for sale while not registered with a redress scheme.
'In the meantime, people who think about using this agency must realise that if things go wrong they and their money may be totally unprotected.'