A letting agent in Hove has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme for 18 months for not passing on more than £12,000 in rents paid by tenants to landlords.
TPO, which operates a free and impartial dispute resolution service for consumers, upheld complaints against Wilkins Residential, of Goldstone Villas, relating to non-payment of rent on three properties to landlords whose properties it managed.
The Ombudsman said that the agent had received rent from the tenants at three of their properties but had improperly retained funds which they calculated to total £12,925.
The agent did not respond to requests from TPO to provide a statement of accounts or their company file.
The Ombudsman found that the agent had emailed the complainants to confirm the accounts would be up to date as soon as possible, which also persuaded the Ombudsman that they had received funds from the tenants which were not passed to the landlords.
However, the Ombudsman found that the complainants’ calculation for rent due had not taken into account the agent’s commission (which is a contractual right).
Therefore, it made a total award of £12,739.30, which comprised £12,925 for missing rent less commission at seven per cent plus VAT (£1,085.70), together with an award for compensation of £900 for the shortcomings in service.
Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman, said: “In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I accepted the complainants’ version of events and the amount of outstanding rent due to be paid.
“This agent has not only failed to respond to the complainants’ communications in relation to the matter, which undoubtedly exacerbated the aggravation caused, they also failed to cooperate with TPOs complaint review.”