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Letting agents expelled by TPO

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Three letting agents were among the latest firms to be expelled from the Property Ombudsman scheme.

The London Landlord Limited, based in Finchley, has been thrown out for failing to pay an outstanding award of over £6,000 made when it failed to honour a ‘guaranteed rent’ deal. A landlord had complained after the agent stopped paying the rent after a dispute arose over who should pay to rectify damp ingression at the landlord’s flat, which the agent had sub-let.

The Property Ombudsman concluded that rent payments should not have been stopped.

TPO reported that The London Landlord’s website is still active, although doesn’t appear to be advertising any properties. The firm was still using the TPO logo despite having its membership ended in December 2019 for non-payment of subscription. TPO has referred The London Landlord Trading Standards.

St. Leonards-On-Sea letting agent, Foremost Lettings Ltd – trading as Foremost Lettings – has been expelled by TPO after ceasing to trade.

TPO said a Facebook post from December 2019 said the company had been bought by The Property Café, which does not appear to hold any common directors with Foremost Lettings.

Foremost Lettings had failed to pay an award made against it after a complaint from a would-be tenant over repayment of a deposit.

TPO said Foremost Lettings Ltd is no longer trading, its website is no longer active, and it does not appear to be a member of any professional body or to be actively advertising properties on any of the main portals. As part of TPO’s process, notification of all expulsions are shared with any relevant bodies, including both Local and National Trading Standards

Chelmsford, Essex estate and letting agent, Old Moulsham Estates Limited – trading as Hawksley Pearce – has been expelled by TPO and is now in liquidation. But, said TPO, the firm ‘appears to have a new business trading from the same address’.

TPO had received a complaint from tenants who said that Hawksley Pearce did not ensure that repairs and maintenance were carried out during their tenancy. The boiler was not functioning at the start of the tenancy. The agent arranged for a contractor to attend without the tenants’ permission, and following this did not provide a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate. Hawksley Pearce also advised the tenants that they would deal with an energy bill, not in their name, for the period before the tenancy commenced. However, the tenants complained, it had failed to do so. Nor did it provide them with the landlords’ address when requested to do so.

Hawksley Pearce did not respond to TPO’s requests for information which hampered its enquiries. It nevertheless concluded that the agent was at fault and made an award – which the firm failed to pay.

‘As a member of TPO, agents are obliged to comply with awards made by the Ombudsman, which Hawksley Pearce failed to do. It appears that this agent is no longer trading, which is frustrating for the tenants who are owed outstanding monies. The tenants have been advised of the agent’s position and papers have been provided to assist in alternative action should they wish to pursue it further. Blackpool firm Leftmove Estate Agent Holdings Limited – trading as Leftmove Estate Agents – has also been expelled by the TPO for failing to pay an outstanding award. This was made after a seller had complained that the firm had not provided a copy of its ‘terms of business’. The agent is no longer trading, said TPO.