Expelled! Agents thrown out by Ombudsman over award payments

26 August 2020 | Renting

Three agents have been expelled by The Property Ombudsman for failing to pay compensation awards. 

In the case of Foremost Lettings Ltd (trading as Foremost Lettings), TPO received a complaint from a tenant accusing the firm of providing insufficient information regarding requirements for guarantors.

The tenant was not able to provide a suitable person to fulfil this role and the proposed let did not go ahead. The complainant wished to receive a full refund.

The Ombudsman supported this complaint to the extent that no referencing of a guarantor had been carried out and the agent’s proposal to refund the guarantor fee of £90 was reasonable. Foremost Lettings retained the rest of the pre-tenancy payment as it had carried out work in preparation for the tenancy.

An issue was also raised about complaints handling, which the Ombudsman supported as there was no evidence that the tenant was provided with a copy of the agent’s internal complaints procedure. An award of £50 was made making the total award to the tenant £140.

Foremost Lettings failed to pay the award leading to its expulsion.

Meanwhile Old Moulsham Estates Limited (trading as Hawksley Pearce), has also been expelled.

TPO received a complaint from tenants in Chelmsford who said Hawksley Pearce did not ensure repairs and maintenance were carried out during their tenancy. 

The Ombudsman was not satisfied that Hawksley Pearce communicated with the landlord and the tenants regarding the repair issues reported or that the agent made appropriate responses regarding this, including informing the tenants that deductions would be made to their deposit if the agent had to instruct a contractor.

This and other complaints were supported by the Ombudsman and £500 was awarded.

The agent failed to pay the award leading to the expulsion.

Finally Finchley agency The London Landlord Limited has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman for failing to pay an award of over £6,000: it also failed to pay its membership renewal fees.

TPO received a complaint from a landlord who let his property under a guaranteed rent contract to The London Landlord. The London Landlord then sub-let the property to the occupier.

An issue arose after the occupier complained of damp. The freeholder of the block said the damp was caused by the occupier’s use of the property, but The London Landlord disagreed and believed it was due to a roof leak. 

The issue went unresolved and The London Landlord suspended payments of guaranteed rent on the basis the landlord was in breach of his repairing obligations under his lease with the freeholder.

TPO concluded that rent payments should not have been stopped. An award was made of £5,874 for unpaid guaranteed rent and £500 for aggravation, distress and inconvenience, totalling £6,374.

The London Landlord failed to pay the award before its membership was ceased for non-payment of renewal fees.

This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.