Two landlords have issued complaints to The Property Ombudsman (TPO) after it materialised that a letting agent in Huddersfield had not passed on rent payments owed to them.
Two landlords, owed more than £3,000 in unpaid rent, have been left chasing rental payments from the troubled Huddersfield letting agent, Gallery@HD1, which has been in trouble with the TPO before, after the company failed earlier this year to co-operate with an investigation into money owed to landlords and tenants.
TPO launched the separate investigation following a complaint that the company owed landlords £2,312 in rent and £975 in deposits. TPO said the firm also failed to pay an award made of £300.
Saimah Afzal rents her terraced house in Oakes via the letting firm, while Rachel Moon also rents her property via the John William Street agency, but both claim that they have been ill treated by the owner of the company, Dennis Goodridge, who has allegedly not passed on rental payments from their tenants for a number of months.
Afzal claims that she is owed £1,200, while Moon says that she is owed £2,000.
Afzal, who lives in Doncaster, The Huddersfield Daily Examiner: “I’ve been fobbed off. I think he’s arrogant to think he can get away with it.
“We received some money when we first started letting our house through them, but it stopped around March.
“I’d call the office and be told Dennis was out, some days I was calling a few times and I’d call every day to chase up the money.
“They owe us £1,200 and we’ve had bank charges because we’ve not been paid.
“I feel like I’ve been played by this company.”
Significant rise in complaints
With more sales and letting agent branches than ever before now signed up to redress schemes, partly because it has been a mandatory requirement for all letting agents and property management agents to do so since October 2014, there has been a 32% rise in complaints against residential agents over the past year, according to the latest report by the TPO scheme.
Almost all of these were resolved in favour of the complainant, resulting in record payouts for the consumer by estate and lettings agents in the wrong.
The average sales award was £374 and the average lettings award was £522 but the largest was over £16,000 for one particular letting dispute.
The Property Ombudsman, Katherine Sporle, said: “The number of agents joining TPO has grown by 82% in the last five years. 35,374 offices are now signed up and following our approved codes of practice.
“Importantly, these figures show that more and more consumers are able to access TPO to have their disputes resolved.
“Last year, out of 16,265 enquiries, 3,304 complex complaints required formal review and, a high percentage [83%] of those complaints were supported. Overall, this is good news for consumers and redress, but not so great for the reputation of agents who collectively paid out over £800,000 in awards.
“My message for agents is simple: pay more attention to the codes of practice and raise your standards.”