Estate and letting agent, SSM2 Limited, has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme for owing a buyer £5,000.
TPO received a complaint from a buyer after the agency, formerly Samuel Makepeace Bespoke Estate Agents, advertised a property as having a third bedroom in the loft space when the attic conversion did not comply with regulations.
The Ombudsman agreed that it was reasonable to have expected the agent to have made the appropriate enquiries before marketing the property and it was noted that their failure to do so had left the complainant in a vulnerable position.
TPO said a local authority could pursue a prosecution or take enforcement action against the registered owner of the property, and this would have been transferred to her upon completion of the purchase.
This shortcoming meant that the complainant was prevented from making an “informed transactional decision” due to the agent’s failure to provide that material information.
TPO criticised the estate agent for “failing to demonstrate” that it had acted in accordance with the requirements of the code, best practice or due diligence, by checking whether the conversion was compliant.
The complaint was supported and an award of £5,000 made to reflect the “significant distress” that had impacted upon the complainant.
Despite this, Samuel Makepeace Bespoke Estate Agents failed to pay the award and TPO referred the agent to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled 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 Samuel Makepeace Bespoke Estate Agents failed to do.
“The agent has gone into liquidation but their website www.samuelmakepeace.co.uk still appears active so this is a warning to all consumers in the local area.”
He added: “We would like to remind 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.”