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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

More lettings agencies expelled by TPO for unpaid awards

Two more lettings agencies have been expelled from The Property Ombudsman as a result of unpaid awards following disputes involving landlords or tenants.

This is in addition to the expulsion yesterday of Liverpool agency Harper Brooks, about which TPO had received over 100 complaints and which had failed to pay over £419,000 in unpaid awards. 

Of the latest two expulsions, the first involved The Drake Lawson Limited trading as Alexander Reed, a sales and lettings agent in Isleworth, West London. It has been expelled from TPO for the non-payment of three separate awards.

The Ombudsman supported three cases against Alexander Reed, one complaint from a tenant and the other two from landlords. In all cases, the Ombudsman was extremely critical of the agent for not co-operating with the investigation. 

There was no documentary evidence provided and therefore no proof that it had met their obligations under the TPO Code of Practice.

In the second case, a letting agency in Middlesbrough - TeesSurveyors Lettings Ltd - was expelled for failing to pay awards in two cases relating to non-payment and late payment of rent. The awards total £3,133.06. 

The first complaint brought to TPO in relation to TSL was by a tenant who had received a letter from an appointed Receiver to say the property she had lived in for 18 months had been repossessed. It stated that all rent due from the time of the Receiver’s appointment should be passed to him and not the landlord or his agent. 

The tenant was unable to stop the next rent payments (£274.62) being sent to the agent in time, and despite the request of both the complainant and the Receiver, the funds were not transferred by the agent. The tenant had also built up a rent credit balance of £557.19 which the agent said had already been transferred to the landlord yet did not produce any evidence of this. 

When contacted by The Property Ombudsman, TSL did respond but only with a few documents, one of which indicated that the agent may have been the landlord. 

The Ombudsman directed the agent to return a total of £831.81 to the complainant so she could clear the arrears with the Receiver, as well as an additional £500 award for avoidable aggravation, distress and inconvenience.

Similarly, in the second case, TSL failed to pass rent over to a landlord, despite rent payments being paid promptly each month by the tenant, leaving a shortfall of £1,201.25. As well as the missing rent, the Ombudsman awarded £500 for avoidable aggravation in relation to the missing rent and a further £100 for failing to respond appropriately to the complainant’s enquiry about gas safety certification.

The award total across the two cases is of £3,133.06. The Ombudsman referred the agent to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled the firm should be expelled from TPO and registration for redress. 

TeesSurveyors Lettings Ltd did then offer to pay the awards in three instalments and made two payments totalling £1200, but no further payment or correspondence has been made since.

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