NEWS FLASH: HomeLet duo to fight 'unfair' sackings
Monday 5th March 2012
John Boyle, managing director of HomeLet, the country’s biggest tenant referencing and insurance firm, has been sacked for gross misconduct. He has totally denied any wrongdoing and has instructed solicitors.
HomeLet is a major sponsor of tomorrow’s ARLA conference and exhibition, being held at the London Metropole Hotel.
In unintended irony, the firm advertises its presence at the event saying: “This year we’re celebrating our 20th Birthday, that’s 20 years of refining our processes; building our experienced team of over 300 people, developing our products and working with some of the biggest brands in the lettings industry.
“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved in this time and also what we have planned for this year… 2012 is going to be a big year!”
Boyle said he had been treated harshly and unfairly by the firm, which sells various insurances on the back of its referencing.
He added: “Anyone who knows me knows that I am a straightforward and fair kind of guy.”
He said he would appeal against his dismissal.
Also sacked is Heidi Abbott, the business development director. The two had previously been suspended pending an inquiry demanded by the City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority.
Boyle, 53, said: “We have been made convenient scapegoats, to deflect away from the real problems.”
HomeLet has had to take a look at all the tenancy insurance policies that have been sold via letting agents.
The agents, apparently acting on advice from HomeLet, had a clause in their tenancy agreements that made it mandatory for tenants to insure their own possessions.
However, the FSA became involved and invoked an OFT ruling going back to around 2005 about treating customers fairly.
Boyle said: “In fact, treating customers fairly was always top priority for me.
“However, it is true that you cannot make a tenant insure their own possessions.”
Tenants could, however, be required to insure landlords’ belongings, he added. The problem seems to have been that HomeLet did not have a product that was just for landlords, bundling everything in together.
As the pair have been dismissed for alleged gross misconduct, they could find it impossible under FSA rules to work in the insurance industry again, certainly at a senior level, as they might not get Approved Person status.
The affair is also of deep concern to HomeLet’s 3,000 or so letting agents who were the ones who actually did the selling. However, the FSA appears to be taking the line that it was HomeLet’s responsibility to ensure that the agents did not break any rules.
Last Friday afternoon, after the sackings, HomeLet insisted there had been no update on the situation. However, a new statement is expected this morning.
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