A Bedford lettings agency that kept more than £2,000 rent money due to a landlord has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme.
Town and Country Management Ltd (TCM), of 60, Harpur Street, Bedford, MK40 2QT, owned by Mr L La Mura and with an associate office in Ampthill, had been ordered by the Ombudsman, Christopher Hamer, to pay £2,243.52 to a landlord.
The award consisted of £2,042.52 in rent Mr La Mura had kept plus £200 for aggravation, distress and inconvenience caused to the landlord but none of the money has been paid. Mr La Mura made a 'goodwill offer' of £100 which he also failed to pay.
Mr La Mura was reported to the Disciplinary and Standards Council (DSC) of TPO for three breaches of the TPO Lettings Code of Practice: failing to provide a service consistent with fairness, integrity, and best practice; not forwarding rent received from a tenant; and non-payment of the Ombudsman's award.
'The DSC took the view that these were flagrant breaches of the Code and that the firm was no longer fit to have membership,' said Gerry Fitzjohn, chief operating officer of TPO.
'The firm was offered the opportunity to appeal its expulsion, which will last for at least two years, but failed to respond.
'It concerns me that this lettings agency did not transfer rental monies received from the tenant to the landlord and this expulsion should be a warning to landlords and tenants about the behaviour of the firm.
'Landlords and tenants should be aware that they will no longer be able to refer matters to the Ombudsman if they feel they have been badly treated by TCM. They are therefore at a serious disadvantage.
'We have informed local Trading Standards officers of the expulsion and TCM must no longer make any mention of TPO to promote its business.'
Town and Country Management in Bedford is not connected to any other business with a similar trading style operating in other parts of the UK and these continue to be members of TPO where they have applied to join the scheme.