A landlord who complained after being told she could not exit a property management contract with a leading lettings agency until the tenant left has won her case.

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has awarded Karen Markham £408 in compensations after she sought redress over her run-in with the Wokingham, Berkshire branch of Romans.

Her saga began three years ago when she bought a buy-to-let property via the agency, subsequently asking it to find a tenant and manage it as well.

Markham subsequently found out that her contract with Romans stipulated that, if she wanted to serve the agency notice, this could only be done after the incumbent tenant left.

TPO has ruled that the terms of business and communications did not clearly outline the circumstances under which the instruction could be terminated.

The ombudsman said it was “not satisfied that this liability for continuous fees, without the ability to serve notice, was specifically drawn to the Markham’s attention.

Agency criticised

“The fees in the contract are not expressed in clearly labelled sections. I have also not found that the contemporaneous system notes are sufficient to conclude that the indefinite nature of the rent collection service was explained sufficiently.”

The Ombudsman also criticised aspects of Romans’ communication with Markham.

Richard O’Neill, MD of Lettings at Romans, told Wokingham Today that: “We have worked closely with trading standards to review our documentation and have actioned their suggestions to improve clarity and avoid similar issues in the future.

“A review of this kind is strictly confidential between Romans and the complainant. Therefore, we will not be publishing the results publicly, however we have now changed our terms and conditions and we do not enforce old policies.”

Guide: How to choose a letting agency.

4 COMMENTS

  1. WOW £408 – I always applaud people who stand up for themselves BUT £408 compensation is a joke.

    It doesn’t even make clear if she was still paying the agencies commission while the complaint was being dealt with – which would still put her out of pocket.

    No point in a redress scheme unless it acts as a deterrent to other dodgy Agents – perhaps 12 months of fees would be more suitable compensation.

    Also wonder if the Agent is now shown on the redress schemes website with details of the “judgement” ?

  2. Landlord wins a case and gets £408. Tenant wins a case, which might involve innocent or minor admin errors, and gets a year’s free rent!!! How is that even remotely reasonable?

  3. I use Romans for a property in Basingstoke and my experience to date has not been great. The property manager I have does not appear to have the first clue about maintenance and repairs or seemingly any idea about typical costs. As a result the manager does not question pricing or the necessity of works and leaves it up to the contractor who are free to do what they want and overcharge. As a result, I find myself having to constantly intervene and question what they are up to.

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