Another agent has been expelled from the Property Ombudsman (TPO) within a few days of MT Properties Central in Birmingham being banned.
Now, Allen & Crane Estates has been excluded. The firm, based in Burnham near Slough, deals with sales and lettings.
Both companies have been expelled after failing to follow TPO’s code of conduct for letting agents and for subsequently not paying an award. Both agents have been banned for a minimum of two years.
Failure to settle the awards means that the agents will be unable to join either of the two other redress schemes, which would mean that they would be trading illegally and could be put out of business.
However, if they pay the outstanding awards, they will be able to join another scheme.
Allen & Crane was a member of TPO from May 2007, but withdrew its membership whilst the complaint was being considered.
Instead, it joined the Property Redress Scheme (PRS), which was unaware of the disciplinary action against the agent at the time.
The PRS has since suspended Allen & Crane’s membership and this will not be reinstated until the £1,600 award has been settled.
TPO excluded Allen & Crane after landlords complained about a number of issues regarding the agent’s actions when letting their properties.
The Ombudsman, Christopher Hamer, upheld all of the complaints.
The agent allowed tenants to move into the property without the landlord’s knowledge and without evidence of reference checks, meaning that it was breaching paragraphs 7b and 7g of TPO code of practice.
There was also a delay in the agent providing the landlords with a copy of the tenancy agreement.
Other issues include the agent’s failure to obtain a security deposit or a valid guarantor agreement, failure to provide regular and clear statements after rent was paid in irregular instalments, and their inability to prove that they had inspected the property regularly or upon check-out.
It was also said that Allen & Crane was difficult to communicate with.
Following the investigation, TPO awarded the complainants a total of £1,600 in compensation. Allen & Crane Estates has still not paid this award.
Hamer explains the case: “The shortcomings in the service provided by Allen & Crane Estates that I identified, particularly with regards to the lack of referencing and security deposits, are serious, and are matters which have significantly disadvantaged the complainants. I therefore supported the complaints that have been made.
“Agents cannot avoid paying awards if they jump from one scheme to another. Under the guidance of the Department for Communities and Local Government, the three approved redress schemes will not accept into membership any agent that does not meet its obligations to another scheme.”
He continues: “Allen & Crane’s membership with PRS has now been suspended and will not be reinstated until they receive confirmation from TPO that the award has been paid in full and the issue has been resolved.
“Once the agent has met their obligations to the first scheme, they are free to join another. Paying an outstanding award clears things up.
“Once they have paid their fee and the two years have passed, as in this case, the agent is free to re-join TPO.”1