Between October and December 2021 (inclusive), two agents were excluded from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) for failing to pay compensatory awards.
The excluded agents include:
- Thamlet Estates, a sales and lettings agent in London, E2. This agent failed to met their obligations under the TPO Code of Practice after a tenancy fell through and the tenant’s holding and security deposit were both retained. Thamlet Estates did not provide their terms and conditions relating to the payment of money to the tenant before she committed to the property and took an advance payment exceeding the equivalent of two weeks rent. No written explanation was given for their decision to retain the money, they simply stated it was non-refundable. TPO directed them to refund the monies of £550 and awarded £100 in compensation. It’s unclear if Thamlet Estates is still actively trading. There is currently a ‘back soon’ holding page on their website.
- Preside, a residential block management company in London, W1. A leaseholder complained that after reporting a leak coming from the flat above into his property it took nine months for something to be done. The leak was eventually repaired but the remedial work to his property remained incomplete. Evidence provided by the leaseholder showed poor communication from Preside following several letters and phone calls which received no response. TPO made an award of £750. TPO is aware that this agent is in liquidation. However, they appear to be still trading under a new business, Preside Limited.
Both agents failed to pay awards made and were referred to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled that they should be excluded from The Property Ombudsman scheme. However, it’s important to reiterate that of the 2,473 financial awards made to consumers in 2020, 2,433 were paid. 23 awards remained unpaid throughout the year with only 19 agents excluded.
98% of Ombudsman awards are complied with by agents demonstrating TPO’s effectiveness in ensuring consumers continue to receive appropriate redress.
As part of TPO’s process, notification of these expulsions are shared with all relevant bodies, including both Local and National Trading Standards for further investigation. The memorandum of understanding between TPO and other redress schemes prevents agents from registering with another scheme until outstanding awards have been paid to consumers.
For press information, please contact:
The Inhouse Way
Tel: 01276 804411
Holly Addinall: 07979 537 334
Helen Evison: 07920 516 577
NOTES TO THE 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 property business. 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. Average awards are around £600 where a complaint is supported.
At 31 December 2020, registered members of TPO comprised 15,159 sales members, 13,587 lettings members, 1,509 Residential Leasehold Management members, and 9,842 members from Other Jurisdictions (such as surveyors and property buying companies).
Whilst TPO charges registered agents an annual subscription and, where appropriate, case fees, 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 property business. This is the role of Trading Standards. However, registered businesses can be referred to the TPO Compliance Committee, which has the power to expel members from the scheme and/or report them to the appropriate regulatory and enforcement authorities.
The Ombudsman's Terms of Reference, Codes of Practice, Agent Guidance, Consumer Guides and other documents about the operation of the scheme are available on our website (www.tpos.co.uk) together with previous annual 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