The Property Ombudsman scheme (TPO) has extended its expulsion of a letting agency by an additional four years.
Premier Property Management, based in Truro, Cornwall, was originally expelled from the redress scheme for two years in November 2016.
The firm was expelled for failing to pass on rental payments and delaying the hand over of deposits.
Since then, a further seven landlords have come forward to complain about the agency, resulting in awards totalling over £20,000.
The agency is no longer legally able to trade, although TPO reports it appears to have already ceased trading and its website is no longer active.
Premier Property Management failed to pay the seven awards and did not respond to TPO's communications. The case was therefore refereed to TPO's Disciplinary & Standards Committee and the agency's expulsion subsequently extended.
TPO's investigation found that the agent offered clients unacceptable reasons for delays in payment and made repeated assurances that rent had been transferred yet some payments were then rescinded.
Furthermore, deposits were often not returned, despite the agent claiming the funds had been transferred.
One landlord claimed they visited the firm’s office and were shown ‘evidence’ of a payment having left Premier’s bank account but the complainant never received the funds.
"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," says Property Ombudsman Katrine Sporle.
"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.”
Gerry Fitzjohn, chairman of the TPO board, adds: “While it is believed that the firm is no longer trading, we have taken action to ensure the firm’s expulsion is extended so they are unable to trade if they attempt to register with any redress scheme.”
Premier Property Management has now been referred to the local authorities.
Conservative MP Oliver Colvile previously described Premier Property Management's conduct as 'appalling' and said that 'action' needed to be taken against the agency.