The Property Ombudsman has expelled a London lettings and estate agency after it failed to honour a compensation payment to a landlord.
TPO says Premier Moves Management Limited did not pay an award of £4,900 as instructed by the Ombudsman, following a complaint by a client landlord.
The complainants said they received a poor service from PMM with ‘promises made and not kept’ and poor communication, with PMM not being contactable during office hours.
TPO investigated each issue and upheld the complaints.
PMM had already agreed it owed £3,600 in rent received. The Ombudsman directed PMM to transfer all rent monies by then owed - some £4,350 - to the complainants. In addition to this, a £500 award of compensation was made so the total award was £4,900.
“My investigation found the agent had failed to ensure rent was passed on to the complainants (landlords) promptly and considered this caused the complainants aggravation, distress and inconvenience. The agent agreed, in writing, that the amount owed to the complainants would be fully paid to them in 28 days but the agent failed to make any payment so the case was referred to the DSC” says Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman.
PMM did make an offer to pay by instalments following the Ombudsman’s decision but this was refused by the complainants. However, no further offer or any payment on account was made after that.
TPO therefore considered this a serious and flagrant breach of Premier Moves Management Limited’s obligations under the Membership Deed.
In view of that, TPO concluded that Premier Moves Management Limited should be expelled and excluded from membership and from registration for redress for one year.
“This means that Premier Moves Management Limited will, for that period, no longer be registered with TPO for lettings redress as required by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 and could not operate as a sales agent because redress registration is also required by Section 23A of the Estate Agents Act 1979” says the Ombudsman’s office.
However, the Ombudsman is warning consumers that the firm might be trading illegally as its website is still live with both ‘For Sale’ and ‘To Let’ properties, even though the office is shut and the agent does not appear to be registered with Rightmove or Zoopla.
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 three government-approved redress schemes means PMM 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.