Buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords in Redhill, North Somerset, are being warned that a local estate and letting agent PM Premier Limited (trading as PM Premier Ltd) has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme. This means the agent can no longer legally trade until the outstanding award of £500 is paid.
A complainant (a potential commercial tenant) referred his issue to The Property Ombudsman stating that that PM Premier pressured him into paying a holding deposit, to which he was not provided with any paperwork. The complainant said he withdrew from the lease due to delays from the landlord and was asked to sign an agreement to agree to have a portion of the deposit refunded, which had already been passed to the Landlord.
The agent’s response was that the landlord required a deposit and that the complainant withdrew from the let.
The Ombudsman was not satisfied that PM Premier had complied with their obligations (under Paragraph 7a of the Commercial Code), as they did not clearly state in writing the terms of the deposit.
There was a clear dispute regarding which party withdrew from the let, which resulted in aggravation, distress and inconvenience as both the landlord and the complainant felt the deposit was owed to them.
The Ombudsman supported the complaint and made an award of £500 for the aggravation, distress and inconvenience caused to the complainant. The agent was not directed to return the deposit as this had been passed to the landlord and the agent had gone into voluntary liquidation. However, the liquidator’s contact details were provided to the complaint so that he could make a claim directly with the landlord if desired.
PM Premier Limited failed to pay the award of £500 so The Ombudsman referred the agent to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled the firm should be expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme. PM Premier Limited has been referred to Trading Standards.
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 PM Premier has failed to do. Although the company has gone into liquidation and has therefore ceased trading, the directors have a number of other active directorships at companies house, including The Letting Station. This company has an active website http://thelettingstation.co.uk which appears to be actively trading from the previous address of PM Premier.”
An agreement between the two Government-approved redress schemes (The Property Ombudsman and The Property Redress Scheme), means PM Premier 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.
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