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Rogue agency expelled from Ombudsman but still trading illegally

A rogue lettings agency in London has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme but is still thought to be trading.

Hawks Properties Limited, trading from an address in Stratford, East London, has been expelled from TPO for failing to pay compensation of £10,264.50 to a landlord following a formal complaint investigation. 

Despite an inactive website, The Property Ombudsman has been informed that the company appears to still be trading illegally, offering properties to let. Trading Standards has been informed.


The landlord instructed Hawks Properties Limited to let and fully manage his property, and the landlord also opted into a rental insurance package in return for a higher management fee.

The property was let to two tenants but six months later they stopped paying rent. 

Hawks Properties made a claim on the rental insurance, but the claim was declined by the insurance provider. Hawks Properties admitted this was due to a procedural error on its part.

Hawks Properties assisted the landlord in regaining possession of the property and the tenants were evicted one year after they stopped paying rent, returning the property in a very poor condition and owing around £12,000 in rent.

The landlord made a complaint to The Property Ombudsman, seeking compensation for the £12,000 arrears and a further £7,000 to cover damage caused to the property by the tenants.

The Ombudsman supported a complaint regarding referencing. It was found that Hawks Properties was notified of the possibility that the tenants were not, in fact, a couple, but failed to investigate this. 

This was important as the landlord only had a license to let to a single household. 

The agency failed to meet its obligations under Paragraphs 11b and 11g of the TPO Code. The Ombudsman also found that Hawks failed to flag to the landlord that the tenants were paying rent in advance and specifically in order to pass referencing, contrary to Paragraph 11g of the Code.

The Ombudsman also supported a complaint about Hawks Properties’ handling of the insurance claim. 

It was found to be fair, in the circumstances, for the agent to compensate the landlord on the basis that the claim had succeeded. This was because the agent had admitted being at fault for the error which led to the claim being denied, and the agent did not provide signed terms of business limiting their liability in the event the claim was unsuccessful.

The Ombudsman made an award of £9,264.50 for financial loss, and £1,000 for aggravation distress and inconvenience, a total of £10,264.50 but Hawks Properties Limited failed to pay the award.

Hawks Properties Limited was referred to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled that they should be excluded from The Property Ombudsman scheme.

As part of TPO’s compliance process, notification of this expulsion has been shared with all relevant bodies, including both Local and National Trading Standards for further investigation, as well as all property portals. 

The memorandum of understanding between TPO and the Property Redress Scheme prevents agents from registering with the other scheme until outstanding awards have been paid to consumers.

According to Companies House the company is in liquidation.

  • Hit Man

    There are loads of rogue agents advertising properties through Openrent and other online landlord advertising agencies, this is to get around the Portals rules where they only accept agents who are registered with a redress Scheme. Im sure Rightmove and Zoopla are aware of this however, OnTheMarket wont allow these cowboys on their portal.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Surely anyone expelled from any ombudsman service should result in an instant/automatic notification to NTSELAT to monitor if they sign elsewhere- if not, they should be immediately shut down. All these regs are meaningless if not enforced.

  • icon

    I just came across one agent who went into liquidation 2 years ago and st trades and collecting rents now. Trading Standards don’t even reply to my emails. Probably working from home and busy!


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