Landlords and Tenants in Newport, Wales, are being warned that a local letting agent Pinkmove Lettings Newport Limited, (trading as Pinkmove Lettings Limited from Conway Road, Newport¹) has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme. This means the agent can no longer legally trade until the outstanding award is paid.
A landlord made a complaint to The Property Ombudsman after not receiving rent of £450 per month for ten months. The agent failed to serve a Section 21 notice to evict the non-paying tenant and had initially told the landlord that they had registered him with Rent Smart Wales, as is a legal requirement for all landlords operating in Wales, but they had not. This meant that when a Section 21 was finally served, it was invalid. The landlord then registered himself with Rent Smart Wales and made a further request for the agent to serve a Section 21, but he did not hear back from Pinkmove Lettings Newport Limited.
The Property Ombudsman had regular contact with Pinkmove Lettings Newport Limited and a deadline for providing their submissions was set which they did not meet. The Ombudsman awarded £5,000 in the landlord’s favour, to cover the £4,500 in missing rent and a further £500 in recognition of the distress, aggravation and inconvenience caused.
The agent 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. Pinkmove Lettings Newport Limited is not currently registered with a redress scheme, which is a requirement of every sales and letting agent in order to trade legally*. 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. Pinkmove Lettings Newport Limited has been referred to Trading Standards and Rent Smart Wales.
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 Pinkmove Lettings Newport Limited has failed to do. This is a reminder to anyone looking to instruct an estate or letting agent to ensure they are a member of a redress scheme (The Property Ombudsman or The Property Redress Scheme) and hold Client Money Protection.”
*N.B. Letting Agents operating in Wales are required to register with Rent Smart Wales. Part of their membership criteria is that they have purchased professional indemnity insurance, are a member of a consumer redress scheme and are able to offer their landlords and tenants client money protection.
An agreement between the two Government-approved redress schemes (The Property Ombudsman and The Property Redress Scheme, means Pinkmove Lettings Newport Limited 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.
¹ Not to be confused with Pinkmove Ltd, a separate company which specialises in homes sales and operates from Bridge Street, Newport.
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