Ombudsman expels agent and says case underlines need for regulation
Tuesday 3rd April 2012
The Ombudsman has expelled an agent from its scheme after it failed to pay an award made against it.
The Derbyshire property agency, Beechwood, has continued to show the TPO logos for both sales and lettings on its site.
TPO had earlier delayed the expulsion of Letzlet Ltd, trading as Beechwood Lettings, while the complainant was helped to obtain a court judgment of £2,176, including court costs, against Letzlet Ltd, of Beechwood House, Matlock Street, Bakewell.
The TPO Disciplinary and Standards Council notified the agency of its expulsion in February and, as it has not responded, the expulsion has now been confirmed to the agency owner, a Ms H. Gregory.
The agent had failed to pay an award of £1,226, which included £976 in rent owing, and had delayed paying rent into the complainant landlord’s account on 12 occasions over a period of 19 months.
It failed to co-operate with the Ombudsman’s investigation and also breached the TPO Code of Practice by not having a complaints system in place.
The company had applied for its TPO membership to be transferred to Beechwood Property Portfolio Ltd from Letzlet Ltd, which had traded as Beechwood Property Sales. This application was made five months after the change of holding company and the new company has never completed registration with TPO.
The Ombudsman said that while Beechwood Property Portfolio is illegally displaying the TPO logos for both sales and lettings, it is not registered with an approved redress scheme as required under the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007.
On the afternoon of March 28, said TPO, Helen Williamson at its Matlock office confirmed by telephone that the company was still selling and letting properties across most of the Peak District.
Gerry Fitzjohn, chief operating officer of TPO, said: “Only two weeks ago, the Ombudsman, Christopher Hamer, made a renewed call for all lettings agents to be regulated in the same way as residential sales agents, and when you look at the behaviour of this firm, it’s easy to see why regulation is essential.
“It is not at present compulsory for letting agents to register with a redress scheme and, at the very least, we firmly believe the law should be revised to require this.
“This agency will be reported to the local Trading Standards team, who have the power to serve a fixed penalty notice for a £1,000 fine if this agency offers houses for sale while not registered with a redress scheme.”
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