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Graham Awards


Named, Shamed, Expelled - rogue agents thrown out by Ombudsman

Five agencies have been expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme - all for compliance failures.

The first is Home Trader Properties, in London E1. Following a landlord complaint, it was found that Home Trader Properties failed to inform the landlord that its guaranteed rent agreement had expired and that the tenant had accrued significant rent arrears. An award of £1,500 was made and remains outstanding. TPO says: “It appears that Home Trader Properties is still actively trading with properties for sale and let on its own website and Zoopla.”

The second is Hardman Estates, in Crewe, Cheshire. Hardman Estates failed to transfer over a total of four months’ rent to the landlord and repeatedly ignored emails regarding the money owed. An overall award was made which included nearly £2,000 for rent and £300 in compensation. Hardman Estates is no longer trading, post is being returned to sender and emails are undeliverable. However, it remains active on Companies House but with a striking off pending.


Next up is New Estate Management Ltd, a block and estate management in Nottingham. TPO says numerous issues were raised in regard to New Estate Management’s block management service. These included failing to inform that cleaning services would be carried out by themselves, the standard of work undertaken to the basement corridor and a breach of management agreement. Nine of the issues raised were supported and an award of £1,000 made. TPO believes that New Estate Management Ltd is still trading.

Then there is Stratsmore Group in Ilford. A landlord raised a number of complaints about this agency, the primary one being that a new and unreferenced tenant was placed in the property without authorisation. Despite terminating the tenancy, Stratsmore Group sought to retain 24 months of fees that had been paid in advance. TPO directed for this to be refunded and made a further award of £500 for aggravation caused. TPO also found that this agent failed to register the deposit preventing the landlord from making a claim through the usual channel of a deposit protection scheme. An award was made equivalent to evidenced damages, as well as a further £400 for aggravation. The total award was just under £8,500. Stratsmore Group is going through liquidation, according to Companies House.

Finally there is Mark Warren, a lettings agency in Manchester. Despite agreeing within the contract to notify the landlord of her need to comply with relevant Health and Safety legislation, it failed to do so when certificates were due to expire, placing the landlord and property at a heightened risk. It also failed to deal with the subsequent complaint in the appropriate manner, causing further distress. An award of £125 was made. It appears that Mark Warren is still actively trading with properties being advertised on its website and Onthemarket.

All five agents failed to pay the award made and were therefore referred to an independent Compliance Committee, which ruled that they should be excluded from The Property Ombudsman scheme.


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