Six agencies have been excluded from The Property Ombudsman for failing to pay compensation to wronged complainants. One was the Belvoir London Westminster franchise operation, which since the incident has been taken over by Belvoir Property Management.
A statement from TPO says the six are:
- Kingdom Property Services Ltd in Slough, Berkshire. TPO found that it failed to transfer over £1,726.99 in rent to the landlord. The tenant was also an employee at the agency. Both parties entered into an agreement without the landlord’s knowledge. In addition, there was evidence that the tenant paid a deposit that wasn’t protected. TPO says: “Kingdom Property Service’s website is no longer active and it doesn’t appear to be advertising on property portals. An award of £900 to reflect aggravation caused and £1,726.00 of outstanding rent remains unpaid, in addition to a further eight outstanding awards.”
- Silverstone Properties London Ltd (trading as Belvoir London Westminster). Following a landlord complaint, TPO found that Belvoir London Westminster breached numerous Codes. The agents did not inspect the property in accordance with the Terms of Business and failed to manage the property in accordance with the Tenancy Agreement. An award of £600 was made. Belvoir London Westminster has been taken over by Belvoir Property Management. This award, as well as two others are still outstanding with Silverstone Properties London Ltd.
- R B Estates in Reading, Berkshire. A complaint against the firm came from a landlord when tenants set up a cannabis farm in their property. They referred to the quality of the referencing checks conducted by R B Estates who classed the tenants as a “group of professionals”. TPO found a number of significant concerns with the referencing process and several failings and made an award totalling £5,910 which included the loss of three months’ rent. R B Estates does not appear to be trading. Its company website no longer works and Google states it is permanently closed.
- George Proctor & Partners (Anerley), in London. The agency recommended a contractor who carried out poor works on a property. TPO found that the agent did not meet their obligations under Paragraph 14c of the Codes as they could not provide evidence that they checked the contractor was suitably qualified to work on parquet flooring. An award of £400 compensation was made. George Proctor & Partners (Anerley) is no longer trading under this name. However, it appears to be trading under Cook Estates Sales and Lettings Ltd from the same address.
- Rentify, a lettings agent in London. A landlord complained that he had been charged for work he was not aware of. TPO was critical that Rentify had not informed the landlord of the works, or the costs incurred and that they deducted these costs six months later with no notice. Rentify made an offer for part of the works, but TPO considered an award of £300 in compensation was required for aggravation caused. There is no active website for Rentify and Companies House says it is in administration.
- Redstones Wolverhampton. This agent failed to make a tenant aware that the landlord’s HMO licence was pending. The tenant had paid a holding deposit and fee but withdrew the following day after discovering the landlord had not yet been granted the licence. The agent refunded the deposit and inventory fee but refused to return the fee for preparing the lease agreement. TPO directed them to return the outstanding money in resolution of the complaint. It appears this agent is no longer trading. Google states it’s permanently closed, post is being returned to sender and emails are no longer deliverable.
All six agents failed to pay the award made and were therefore referred to TPO’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled that they should be excluded from The Property Ombudsman scheme.
As part of TPO’s process, notification of these expulsions are shared with all relevant bodies, including both local and National Trading Standards for further investigation.
The memorandum of understanding between TPO and other redress schemes prevents agents from registering with another scheme until outstanding awards have been paid to consumers.