9:03 AM, 5th September 2017, About 5 years ago 1
Truro based letting agent Prmier Property Management was banned from operating by The Property Ombudsman (TPO) for 2 year last November.
However, as the subject of a BBC investigation they were found to still be trading this February and the TPO received a further seven client complaints resulting in additional awards against the agents totaling £20,566, none of which has been paid.
The BBC alleges that over £35,000 is owed to landlords and tenants in rent and deposits with one landlord being owed £4,200.
Katrine Sporle, Property ombudsman said: “This agent’s behaviour fell well below the standards expected and their systematic failure to pass on rental payments and deposits received has affected the lives of several landlords.
“Cases like these are fortunately extremely rare, but do highlight the importance of consumers keeping their own written records so I can review emails, bank statements and correspondence as part of my investigation to determine if the agent has acted fairly.”
Although the agency has been banned from operating apparently there is no system in place to stop the owner from moving on and continuing to work in the industry.
This Autumn a Blacklist of banned lettings industry individuals is being set up, but the general public. However, the list will only be accessible by Local Councils and the Department for Communities and Local Government and not open to private firms or the general public.
Jane Erskine, Deputy Ombudsman said: “It is Premier Property Management who is a member and hence the agent who has been expelled from membership of TPO.
“An agreement between the three Government approved redress schemes means this agent will not be able to register for any form of redress until all awards are paid. Expelling an agent also affects a decision to allow any other agent with the same director or partner to join TPO in the future. Redress registration is required for an agent to trade legally.
“As a consumer redress scheme, we cannot regulate the industry. When an agent is expelled by TPO, we notify Trading Standards as they are the regulatory body who are able to take enforcement action to stop an agent trading illegally. Trading Standards were notified of the expulsion in November 2016.
“As Premier Property Management failed to abide by the Ombudsman’s decision in other cases that had been referred to TPO prior to November 2016, these further case were referred to the Disciplinary and Standards Committee, who increased the expulsion period. TPO understands that PPM is no longer trading and the website is no longer active.”