Seven agents, the majority of which are now in liquidation, have been excluded from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) for failing to pay compensatory awards.
Excluded agents include:
- Whirlybird Property, a sales and lettings agent in Maidenhead, Berkshire. This agent failed to pay an outstanding award of £4,042 in relation to a complaint from a landlord over the transfer of rent despite proof it had been paid by the tenant. Trading Standards has confirmed that Whirlybird Property is no longer trading and is going into liquidation.
- Deerstone Property, a sales agent in Guildford, Surrey. In a complaint against Deerstone, TPO found it had not provided a service consistent with best practice when marketing properties for sale and an award of £2,000 was made. Although this agent appears to no longer be trading, there is a connection to Deerstone Group Ltd which is still trading and who appears to have no redress.
- PrinvestUK Ltd, a sales agent in Knaphill, Surrey. TPO received 58 complaints against this agent, 45 of which were supported with awards totalling £215,330. PrinvestUK Ltd is currently being liquidated and The Insolvency Service is carrying out an investigation.
- Chaplin Bond Business Sales Specialists, a commercial sales agent in Bolton, Manchester. Sellers complained that the agent had not marketed the property properly and ceased trading without telling them. TPO made an award of £1,500. There is no evidence to suggest Chaplin Bond Business Sales Specialists are still trading and its website is inactive.
- Experience Invest, a sales, lettings and commercial agent in Victoria, London. A complaint against them came from a landlord over non-payment of assured rent. The case was supported with an award of £2,000. Experience Invest has placed a note on its website stating they have closed the company and ceased trading.
- The Buy2Let Shop, a residential buying agent in Bromley, Kent. An award of £4,600 remains outstanding following a complaint relating to the purchase of an off-plan property. The Buy2Let Shop, which is no longer trading and in administration, has a connection to E Property Sales Ltd, sharing the same Director. E Property Sales Ltd, also a residential buying agent in Bromley, Kent, has been excluded for non-payment of a £5,900 award in a supported case where the buyer was seeking reimbursement of fees paid after the sellers withdrew. Despite liquidation on Companies House, E Property Sales Ltd appears to have an active website.
All 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 reference that overall, 98% of Ombudsman awards are complied with and these cases present a small minority that failed to do so.
As part of TPO’s process, notification of these expulsions have been shared with all relevant bodies, including both Local and National Trading Standards for further investigation.
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