Buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords in Crystal Palace are being warned that a local estate and letting agent, Ronald Davis & Co Ltd (trading as Davis & Co Ltd), has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman and is now in liquidation.
The Property Ombudsman received a complaint from a landlord concerning her rental money. It was paid a year in advance, but Davis & Co Ltd did not send on the rent to the landlord on a regular basis or for a consistent amount. There was no reason why the monies were not sent so the Ombudsman considered the landlord’s request for interest to be fair.
The landlord had also been overcharged on fees when Davis & Co Ltd did not bill in line with the contract. A refund was due, but the cheque sent did not arrive. The Ombudsman awarded the difference between the fees to be paid back which totalled £774.20, plus £29.80 interest.
Finally, Davis & Co Ltd did not send the correct CMP certificate to the landlord. It transpired this was because Client Money Protection (CMP) was not properly in place.
This complaint was supported by the Ombudsman and £400 was awarded for the avoidable aggravation caused by Davis & Co Ltd for not sending the rent monies to the landlord. This was in addition to the fees and interest. The total award was £1,204.
Davis & Co Ltd failed to pay the award and The Ombudsman referred them to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled that they should be expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme.
Davis & Co Ltd is now in liquidation - the landlord has been advised and papers have been provided to assist in alternative action.
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 Davis & Co Ltd failed to do. The agent has gone into liquidation but their website www.davisandco.co.uk still appears to be active with properties both for sale and let so this is a warning to all consumers in the local area. They also appear to be active on the OnTheMaket portal.
The CMP logo is still being displayed on their website, but we have been unable to verify active registration. However, they are registered with UKALA so will be covered under their Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme*.”
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 Davis & Co 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, 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