Nextmove in Berverley, Yorkshire (which failed to pay complainants awards totalling £3,256.80);
Marques Residential Limited in Southampton (£17,775);
Lang and Ward in East London (£250);
William Huxley, also in East London (£6,583);
TM Estates Limited in Kent (£23,700);
Abbey Properties at Brook Green in London (£400); and
Berkshire Estates in Slough (£60,292.24).
All of the complaints against the respective agents were independently reviewed and upheld by the Ombudsman, who directed payment of the money to those owed, together with compensation in all the cases.
To date, all seven agents have failed to make any payment.
The Ombudsman referred them to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled the firms should be expelled from the TPO.
None of the agents are currently registered with a redress scheme, which is a requirement of every sales and letting agent in order to trade legally. They also do not appear to be members of a Client Money Protection scheme and do not hold any professional memberships.
Most no longer have active websites or advertise on any of the main property portals, except for Abbey Properties, which has been reported to Trading Standards.
“Cases like these are rare, evidenced by the fact that just 0.1 per cent of all TPO agents are referred to the Compliance Committee. As members of TPO, agents have an obligation to provide a reliable, trustworthy and professional service, and where they are found to fail in this, are obliged to comply with awards made by the Ombudsman. Last year 97 per cent of agents paid awards made. However, in all of these cases, the agents have not co-operated fully and have failed to pay awards made” explains Gerry Fitzjohn, non-executive director and chairman of TPO’s Finance Committee.