Soham, Bristol and East London agents expelled from TPO

by Property118.com News Team

10:13 AM, 16th December 2019
About 12 months ago

Soham, Bristol and East London agents expelled from TPO

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Soham, Bristol and East London agents expelled from TPO

Buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords in Soham, Cambridgeshire, are being warned that a local estate and letting agent Let365co Ltd (trading as 365 Residential) has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme owing a landlord £1,895 of a £3800 award made by the Ombudsman.

A landlord made a complaint to The Property Ombudsman in relation to shortcomings in service provided by 365 Residential, which managed his 19 properties.

On reviewing the complaint, the Ombudsman supported the landlord’s case noting that the agent had failed to; obtain, or take all reasonable steps to obtain, Gas Safety Certificates for two properties; maintain records of periodic inspections carried out at all of the properties; provide the landlord with a signed Tenancy Agreement for one property; carry out or provide the landlord with inventories for 15 of the properties and had failed to respond to a complaint letter regarding one of the properties. The Ombudsman made a total award of £3800 to reflect the avoidable aggravation caused to the landlord.

After correspondence between TPO’s independent Compliance Committee and the agent, 365 Residential agreed to a monthly payment plan to pay the award to the landlord. However, to date the agent has only paid £1,905, with the last payment made in June, leaving £1895 outstanding.

TPO’s independent Compliance Committee has now ruled that the firm should be expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme.

365 Residential 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. They also do not appear to be a member of a Client Money Protection scheme**, also a legal requirement, and do not have any professional memberships. However, the agent does have an active Zoopla account with properties listed both to let and for sale.

Gerry Fitzjohn, Non-Executive Director and Chairman of TPO’s Finance Committee: “As a member of TPO, agents are obliged to comply with awards made by the Ombudsman, which 365 Residential has failed to do. This is a warning to consumers as the company does appear to still be advertising properties for sale and to let. We would like to remind consumers to ensure they always use an agent which is a member of a redress scheme (The Property Ombudsman or The Property Redress Scheme) and holds Client Money Protection**.”

Buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords in Winford, Bristol, are being warned that a local estate and letting agent trading as Chew Valley Estates has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme owing a landlord £5,200.

The Complainant (a landlord and seller of a property) made a number of complaints to The Property Ombudsman regarding the conduct of Chew Valley Estates. In this instance, the agent had received rent of £4,800 from the tenants but had failed to pass the funds to the complainant.

The agent had also failed to arrange for the security deposit to be transferred into the complainant’s name when they terminated the instruction and had misled the complainant regarding an offer the sitting tenants had made to purchase the property.

The Ombudsman supported the case and a direction was made for Chew Valley Estates to refund the complainant the £4,800 rent owed as well as £400 for the shortcomings in communication, which had resulted in the complainant suffering unnecessary aggravation.

Following correspondence between TPO’s independent Compliance Committee and the agent, Chew Valley Estates agreed to a monthly payment plan which was accepted by the complainant. However, no payments were ever made, with the agent indicating they were in financial difficulty. The case was referred back to TPO’s independent Compliance Committee which ruled that the firm should be expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme.

Chew Valley 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. They also do not appear to be a member of a Client Money Protection scheme**, also a legal requirement, and do not have any professional memberships.

Gerry Fitzjohn, Non-Executive Director and Chairman of TPO’s Finance Committee: “As a member of TPO, agents are obliged to comply with awards made by the Ombudsman, which Chew Valley Estates has failed to do. Although there is no evidence to suggest this agent is still trading, this is a warning to consumers to ensure they always use an agent which is a member of a redress scheme (The Property Ombudsman or The Property Redress Scheme) and holds Client Money Protection**.”

Landlords and tenants in East London (E11) are being warned that a local letting agent, JBE London Limited (trading as JBE London) has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme owing a tenant £2,810.

The tenant made a complaint to The Property Ombudsman about the re-letting fee she had been charged by JBE London. The tenant also complained about the agent not providing her with the landlord’s contact details; of poor communication and rudeness; not dealing with repair and maintenance issues and had not providing her with any assistance in getting her deposit back.

The tenant moved out of the property early and was required to pay a re-letting fee to cover marketing and administration. However, an email from JBE London had stated that if they found a replacement tenant then the £995 would be fully refunded. This caused subsequent confusion when another instructed agent found the replacement tenant and the agent sought to retain these monies. The Ombudsman did not consider it reasonable that the agent retain the full amount given the level of work that they had undertaken, and made a direction that they refund £500 of the £995 fee.

The Ombudsman was critical that the agent had not provided the landlord’s address when requested, and although unable to determine that the agent was rude, noted that they had failed to respond to emails. From evidence provided, it was clear the agent had offered to assist the tenant with maintenance issues, which the landlord had not actioned, but had then failed to do so. For the avoidable aggravation, the Ombudsman awarded £300 for these elements of the complaint.

The tenant had been in contact with JBE London about the return of her deposit, however, they had not replied. Some months later the agent advised that the landlord wished to make deductions, but did not transfer the undisputed balance. The Ombudsman directed JBE London to return the undisputed amount of £2,010 and to provide the tenant with any assistance she may require in progressing her claim through the relevant deposit protection scheme.

JBE London 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

JBE London 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. They also do not appear to be a member of a Client Money Protection scheme**, also a legal requirement, and do not have any professional memberships.

Gerry Fitzjohn, Non-Executive Director and Chairman of TPO’s Finance Committee: As a member of TPO, agents are obliged to comply with awards made by the Ombudsman, which JBE London has failed to do. Although there is no evidence to suggest this agent is still trading, this is a warning to consumers to ensure they always use an agent which is a member of a redress scheme (The Property Ombudsman or The Property Redress Scheme) and holds Client Money Protection**.”

*N.B. 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 365 Residential 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.

**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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