Posts with tag: TPO code of practice

Another Agent is Expelled from the Property Ombudsman

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.

Another Agent is Expelled from the Property Ombudsman

Another Agent is Expelled from the Property Ombudsman

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 


Birmingham Letting Agent Expelled from Property Ombudsman

A Birmingham-based sales and letting agent, MT Properties Central Limited (MTPC), has been expelled from membership of The Property Ombudsman (TPO) for a minimum of two years.

An investigation revealed that MTPC failed to comply with elements of TPO code of practice for residential letting agents. MTPC also did not cooperate with TPO’s investigation and to date has not paid the £2,300 award.

Birmingham Letting Agent Expelled from Property Ombudsman

Birmingham Letting Agent Expelled from Property Ombudsman

MTPC was inspected after landlords complained of several issues relating to tenancies at two properties. TPO discovered evidence of poor record keeping and administration, and upheld complaints about the collection and payment of rent to landlords, alongside poor service.

The agent’s poor record keeping made it difficult to determine the rent that had been received and what had been paid to the landlords. However, TPO decided that four months’ rent was owed to the landlords regarding one property.

TPO was critical of the fact that the agent had named itself as the landlord on the tenancy agreement for the other property, instead of the actual landlords. It was observed that if this stopped the landlords pursuing the rent arrears, the agent should do so on behalf of the landlords.

TPO also noted the agent’s poor communication with the landlords, failure to pursue one tenant for full rent payments and poor complaints handling.

Additionally, TPO upheld a complaint about the handling of the termination of the contract with the landlord.

Due to poor record keeping, TPO did not reach a conclusion on a complaint about tenants being accepted by the agent without references. However, TPO said that the agent should have clearly documented that they had advised the landlords that it was not in their best interests to accept the tenants.

Following the investigation, TPO awarded the complainants a total of £2,300 compensation to cover the inconvenience and distress caused as well as outstanding rent. MTPC has not yet paid the award.

Property Ombudsman Christopher Hamer says: “My role as Property Ombudsman is to impartially review complaints made by members of the public against agents based on the evidence that is submitted to me. I aim to promote a resolution in full and final settlement of a complaint, and will determine appropriate redress where I am satisfied that the actions of an agent have disadvantaged a complainant.

“In examining the issues involved in this case, I determined there were severe shortcomings in the agent’s approach, I supported four of the five complaints and made an award in favour of the landlord.

“The agent, however, has failed to meet his obligations to pay that award and has now felt the consequences.”1

When agents join TPO, they agree to comply with its code of practice, including agreeing to cooperate with investigations and pay any awards made. MTPC did not do that.

The disciplinary and standards committee of TPO believes those are serious breaches of the code of practice and decided that MTPC should be expelled from voluntary membership of TPO for a minimum of two years.