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Failure to pass on rent to a landlord client, failure to undertake promised work prior to letting, failure to evict a tenant as instructed and failure to return a tenancy deposit were among the letting agent failings that have resulted in a flurry of expulsions from the Property Ombudsman scheme.
In all, eight agents were expelled from the scheme. All had failed to pay amounts previously awarded following successful complaints from clients. Five of the agents are now in liquidation and have been referred by the TPO to Trading Standards.. The other three have ceased trading.
Even so, some of the firms still have active websites and the TPO has advised buyers, tenants and sellers in their areas to be wary.
The eight estate and letting agents are:
- Flat Sharing Ltd, trading as Flintons in London, E3, now in liquidation.
- SSM2 Limited, trading as Samuel Makepeace Bespoke Estate Agents in Stoke on Trent, now in liquidation.
- Barrington & Blake Estates Limited, trading as Barrington & Blake Estates Limited in Cleckheaton, now in liquidation.
- Sam Allan Estates Ltd, trading as Sam Allan Estates in Morpeth, now in liquidation.
- Ronald Davis & Co Ltd, trading as Davis & Co Ltd in Crystal Palace, now in liquidation.
- Target Estates Ltd, trading as Target Estates in Romford, now ceased trading.
- Olive Branch Estate Limited, trading as The Olive Branch in Tonbridge, now ceased trading.
- Residential Asset Management Limited, trading as RAM in Barkingside, now ceased trading. In this case the TPO said it is aware of a separate registered legal entity trading from the last known address, using the same trading name.
In the case The Olive Branch, a tenant had complained to TPO about the condition of the property he let from the start of the tenancy. Among other things, he said it had been rat-infested. He also said the agent did not refund his security deposit when he left after only one night.
Davis & Co Ltd had been found at fault after a landlord client complained that although rental money had been paid a year in advance, the letting agent did not send regular or consistent amounts. The landlord had also been overcharged on fees and a refund did not arrive.
In Flinton’s case, a tenant had complained that his security deposit had not been returned until four months after he had left the tenancy.
Complains against Residential Asset Management upheld by the TPO included a charge that it had failed to evict tenants as instructed and had failed to protect the tenants’ deposit.
‘Cases like these are rare, with only 0.1 per cent of all TPO agents being referred to the Compliance Committee and 98 per cent of agents paying awards that are made’, said chairman of TPO’s Finance Committee Gerry Fitzjohn.
‘As members of TPO, agents have an obligation to provide a reliable, trustworthy and professional service, and where they are found to fail in this, are obliged to comply with awards made by the Ombudsman. In all of these cases, the agents have not co-operated fully and have failed to pay awards made’.