When a tenant paid his initial one month’s rent in addition to a tenancy deposit in exchange for the keys to his new rental property last year, he did not expect a few weeks after moving into the flat to be contacted by the landlord wanting to know where his money was.
When it materialised that the letting agent had had not passed on his deposit or initial rent payment to the landlord, the tenant issued a worthwhile compliant to The Property Ombudsman (TPO) which was upheld by the Ombudsman, who ordered the letting agency to pay the money owed to the landlord totalling more than £4,000, together with £250 compensation to the tenant.
But to make matters worse, the London-based company failed to pay the award, despite the fact that TPO members are required to comply with any award and direction given by the Property Ombudsman and accepted by the complainants.
Failure to pay the fine subsequently resulted in the agency’s expulsion from the residential agency ombudsman, which means that the company in question cannot legally trade as a letting agency, because as many of you will undoubtedly know, it is mandatory that all letting agents and property management agents register with one of three government-approved redress schemes, none of which will allow previously expelled agents to join.
Although in most cases disputes are resolved without a formal referral, these government approved schemes, run by The Property Ombudsman (TPO), Ombudsman Services Property and the Property Redress Scheme (PRS), provide fair and reasonable resolutions to disagreements between members of the public, including buy-to-let landlords, and property agents, ensuring that tenants and landlords have a straightforward option to hold their agents to account when required.
To help strengthen its offering, TPO has appointed Baroness Warwick, the current chair of the National Housing Federation, as the scheme’s new council chair, after Lord Best officially stepped down from the role after his eight-year term came to an end.
Baroness Diana Warwick (pictured below) said: “I am delighted to succeed Lord Best in this important role and hope that the qualities and skills I bring will help to reinforce the commitment to high standards that he has fostered.
“I share the Property Ombudsman Scheme's values of independence and public service and strongly support its purpose in providing free, fair and impartial service to buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords of property in the UK.”
Reflecting on the appointment, the Property Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle, said: “I look forward to working closely with Diana who has spent many years helping the government make and shape laws, and debate public policy matters."
"She will be a great asset to TPO which aims to raise standards in the industry and protect consumers from unfair practices.”