Agent Registration:

Three agents were expelled from The Property Ombudsman Scheme (TPO) in October after owing their landlords substantial amounts of money.

With fines totalling just short of £20,000, the three letting agents were expelled from the Scheme and fined.

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The three were based in Essex, Kent and North London and as members of TPO, the agents are obliged to comply with the awards made by the Ombudsman, which all three agents failed to do.

Landlords in Winchmore Hill area of London (N21) are being warned that a local estate and letting agent Assetgrove Prime Sales & Lettings Ltd (trading as Assetgrove Prime) has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme owing a landlord £1,820.50.

A landlord made a complaint to The Property Ombudsman after claiming that the agent failed to pass on the last month’s rent and failed to compensate him for a new cooker which was missing at the end of the tenancy.

The landlord was also dissatisfied that when he raised the issue with Assetgrove Prime, as the employee he had been dealing with stopped responding, the agent denied that the tenancy was anything to do with them and said it should be directed towards the employee who actually worked for another agency.

Landlords, tenants, house buyers and sellers in Strood, Kent, are being warned that a local estate agent Chambers Estates Kent Ltd, (trading as Chambers Estates) has also been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme.

A complaint was brought to TPO by a landlord who said Chambers Estates owed him three months’ rent which had been paid by the tenant but not passed on. The statements provided showed that rent was collected by the agent but not paid over to the landlord. The agency agreement was clear that monies should be paid over within a month of receipt.

The agent did not respond to the original complaint submitted by the landlord nor a subsequent letter sent by a solicitor. The Ombudsman supported the complaint and awarded the landlord £2,376 for rent income due and a further £400 for connected aggravation and complaint handling failures.

Chambers Estates failed to pay the award and The Ombudsman referred the agent to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled the firm should be expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme. Chambers Estates is not currently registered with a redress scheme, which is a requirement of every sales and letting agent in order to trade legally.

Trading Standards have been informed of the expulsion. Chambers also do no not appear to be a member of a Client Money Protection scheme, also a legal requirement, and do not have any professional memberships. The agent does still have properties listed with OnTheMarket, however, these are outdated.

Buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords in Ilford, Essex, are being warned that a local estate and letting agent Kingsman Property Limited (trading as Kingsman Property) has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme owing a landlord £14,921.23.

A landlord made a complaint to The Property Ombudsman after claiming that the agent failed to pass on rent owed to him, which had been paid by the tenant.

The landlord had entered into a Guaranteed Rental Income Scheme with Kingsman Property which was meant to ensure that the landlord received the rent every month. The agent also confirmed that they would obtain a multiple occupation (HMO) licence as it was their intention to rent the property to more than two tenants. The landlord received the rent for a period of eight months, but Kingsman Property then stopped paying the rent, resulting in the landlord dis-instructing them. At the time, the agent owed the landlord more than £12,000 in rent.

Unfortunately, by the time the landlord brought the matter to The Property Ombudsman, it transpired that the agent had gone into administration, therefore it was highly unlikely that any award that was made would be recovered, but the landlord asked TPO to proceed anyway.

The Ombudsman concluded that several aspects of the service that Kingsman Property had provided fell considerably short of the standard of service expected under TPO’s Codes of Practice. This included the failure to ensure that the property complied with current HMO regulations, the failure to register some of the deposits that they received and the failure to pay the rent as agreed. The Ombudsman made an award of £14,921.23, which included the rent that had not been paid (£12,421.23), the deposit (£1,000) as well as an award (£1,500) for the avoidable aggravation and distress caused.

Kingsman Property failed to pay the award and the Ombudsman referred the agent to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled the firm should be expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme.

Kingsman Property is not currently registered with a redress scheme, which is a requirement of every sales and letting agent in order to trade legally. Trading standards have been informed about Kingsman Property’s expulsion. They also do no not appear to be a member of a Client Money Protection scheme, also a legal requirement, do not have any professional memberships or advertise on the any of the main property portals, Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket.

Every sales and lettings agent in England is required to register with a Government-approved redress scheme, which enables consumers to have their complaint reviewed independently in the event of a dispute arising that the consumer is unable to resolve with the agent directly.

An agreement between the two Government-approved redress schemes (The Property Ombudsman and The Property Redress Scheme, means Kingsman Property Ltd will not be able to register for any form of redress until the award is paid. Redress registration is required for the agents to trade legally.

A full list of Client Money Protection schemes, is: Money Shield, Client Money Protect, NALS Client Money Protection, Propertymark, RICS, UKALA Client Money Protection

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