A local estate and letting agent trading as Chew Valley Estates has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme owing a landlord £5,200.
The complainant (a landlord and seller of a property) made a number of complaints to TPO regarding the conduct of Chew Valley Estates. The regulator said in this instance, the agent had received rent of £4,800 from the tenants but had “failed to pass the funds to the complainant”.
The agent had also failed to arrange for the security deposit to be transferred into the complainant’s name when they terminated the instruction and had “misled” the complainant regarding an offer the sitting tenants had made to purchase the property.
The Ombudsman supported the case and a direction was made for Chew Valley Estates to refund the complainant the £4,800 rent owed as well as £400 for the shortcomings in communication, which had resulted in the complainant suffering “unnecessary aggravation”.
Following correspondence between TPO’s independent Compliance Committee and the agent, Chew Valley Estates agreed to a monthly payment plan which was accepted by the complainant.
However, no payments were ever made, with the agent indicating they were in “financial difficulty”. The case was referred back to TPO’s independent Compliance Committee which ruled that the firm should be expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme.
Gerry Fitzjohn, non-executive director and chairman of TPO’s Finance Committee, said: “As a member of TPO, agents are obliged to comply with awards made by the Ombudsman, which Chew Valley Estates has failed to do.
“Although there is no evidence to suggest this agent is still trading, this is a warning to consumers to ensure they always use an agent which is a member of a redress scheme (The Property Ombudsman or The Property Redress Scheme) and holds Client Money Protection.”