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Rogue letting agent that failed to pass on rent expelled by TPO

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has expelled TeesSurveyors Lettings Ltd (TSL) from the scheme for failing to pay awards totalling just over £3,000 in two cases relating to non-payment and late payment of rent.

The first complaint brought to TPO in relation to TSL, which is based in Middlesbrough, was by a tenant who had received a letter from an appointed receiver to say the property she had lived in for 18 months had been repossessed.

It stated that all rent due from the time of the receiver’s appointment should be passed to him and not the landlord or the agent.

The tenant was unable to stop the next rent payment of £274.62 being sent to the agent in time, and despite the request of both the complainant and the receiver, the funds were not transferred by the agent.

The tenant had also built up a rent credit balance of £557.19 which the agent said had already been transferred to the landlord yet did not produce any evidence of this.

The TPO directed the agent to return a total of £831.81 to the complainant so she could clear the arrears with the receiver, as well as an additional £500 award for avoidable aggravation, distress and inconvenience, but the agent opted not to make the payment.

Similarly, in the second case, TSL failed to pass rent over to a landlord, despite rent payments being paid promptly each month by the tenant, leaving a shortfall of £1,201.25.

As well as the missing rent, the Ombudsman awarded £500 for avoidable aggravation in relation to the missing rent and a further £100 for failing to respond appropriately to the complainant’s enquiry about gas safety certification.

The Ombudsman referred TSL to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled the firm should be expelled from TPO and registration for redress.

TeesSurveyors Lettings Ltd did then offer to pay the awards in three instalments and made two payments totalling £1200, but no further payment or correspondence has been made since.

Gerry Fitzjohn, non-executive director and chair of TPO’s Finance Committee, commented: “All members of TPO are obliged to comply with awards made by the Ombudsman as well as co-operate with investigations, which TSL has failed on both counts.

“Although some attempt was made to pay the awards, this has not been settled in full. As part of TPO’s role to provide better consumer protection, we feel it is important to raise awareness to cases such as these, in the event that TSL attempts to continue trading with any existing landlords and tenants who may be unaware of the company’s position.”

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