Rogue agents expelled by TPO for failing to pay compensation awards
Two London agencies have been expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme for failing to honour two compensation awards.
The first is Chase & Co UK Ltd, (trading as Chase & Co UK): in this case a complaint was brought to TPO by a landlord who said Chase & Co UK owed him a fee refund and rent which had been paid by the tenant but not passed on.
The landlord paid an upfront fee to Chase & Co UK but his tenant vacated seven months early and so it was agreed that he was entitled to a refund of seven months’ fees.
The landlord provided evidence that he had not received the agreed refund of the agent’s fee. The landlord also provided evidence to demonstrate that the tenant had paid rent for the eight-month period and that it had not been passed to him.
TPO says Chase & Co UK also failed to demonstrate that it had carried out its advertised service of informing the council that the tenant residing in the property (a student) was exempt from paying council tax, leading to the landlord incurring court fees of £246.41.
The Ombudsman supported the complaint and awarded the landlord £8,319.41 to cover the return of the agent’s fee, the missing rent, the court fee, and an additional £800 for the avoidable aggravation caused.
Chase & Co UK failed to pay the award and The Ombudsman referred the agent to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled the firm should be expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme.
Chase & Co UK has been referred to Trading Standards.
The second case involves Property 24/7 Limited, trading as Property 24/7, which has been expelled for failing to pay an award of £500 made by the Ombudsman.
Tenants made a complaint to TPO stating that Property24/7 had failed to register their deposit with a deposit protection scheme within 30 days, did not communicate with the landlord over the tenants’ requirements for furnishings and pre-tenancy repairs and failed to respond to their communications.
The Ombudsman supported all three elements of the case and made an award of £500.
The agent’s membership of TPO had ceased at the date of review but the events occurred during its period of TPO membership. The agent’s membership was then reinstated upon payment of renewal within the ‘grace period.’
However, Property 24/7 failed to pay the award and The Ombudsman referred the agent to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled the firm should be expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme.
The agent has been referred to trading standards and complainants have been advised of potential problems with award enforcement and the fact there is an active proposal to strike Property 24/7 off Companies House register.