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Failed letting agent under investigation

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When Walsall letting agent Homepoint Estate Agents Limited went into voluntary liquidation last month it owed almost £460,000 in rent it had collected but not paid over to landlords.

Neither had all tenant deposits been protected, as required by law. A statement of affairs filed at Companies House now confirms that the amount involved was just over £118,000.

Dudley council has now got involved. Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care, confirmed its trading standards officers are ‘currently investigating concerns raised in regards to this company’.

The company’s former telephone number is being answered – but by staff of Point to Home Limited, which has taken over some of Homepoint’s business. Staff there confirm that Homepoint Estate Agents has ceased trading.

Point to Home Limited was incorporated in only December 2020. It has £1,000 capital and one director, 46 year old Charnjit Sidhu.

Neither of the two Homepoint directors, Ajit Poonior and Vipul Patel, hold office in the new company although liquidators Moore UK said it understood Mr Pooni is involved in the business ‘in some way’.

It is a legal requirement for letting agents to join a client money protection scheme. Homepoint Estate Agents Limited was a member of Client Money Protect run by the insurance group Hamilton Fraser.

For CMP, Thomas Bancroft confirmed the company was aware that landlords had been affected by the Homepoint liquidation, but said only 23 had so far come forward.

Landlords wanting to make a claim are advised to visit the CMP website which has information on how to make a claim and the evidence that will be required.

In general landlords will be asked for a crime reference number and may claim for up to three month’s rent.

‘The legislation is clear, if an agent does not belong to one of the approved client money protection schemes, then they are trading illegally and would be subject to fines and prosecution from the enforcement authority, in this case Trading Standards’, said Bancroft. ‘Landlords should always check a letting agent’s website for logos and a copy of the certificate and check the dates to know that the membership is in force’.

Further information on letting agents client money protection schemes is available on the Minstry of Housing website.