Buy-to-let landlords and tenants, as well as vendors and property purchasers, are being warned that Kent-based Chambers Estates has been excluded from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme.
A complaint was brought to TPO by a landlord who said the sales and letting agency owed him three months’ rent which had been paid by the tenant but not passed on.
The statements provided showed that rent was collected by the agent but not paid over to the landlord. The agency agreement was clear that monies should be paid over within a month of receipt.
The agent did not respond to the original complaint submitted by the landlord nor a subsequent letter sent by a solicitor.
The Ombudsman supported the complaint and awarded the landlord £2,376 for rent income due and a further £400 for connected aggravation and complaint handling failures.
Chambers Estates failed to pay the award and The Ombudsman referred the agent to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled the firm should be expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme.
Chambers Estates is not currently registered with a redress scheme, which is a requirement of every sales and letting agent in order to trade legally. Trading Standards have been informed of the expulsion.
Chambers also do no not appear to be a member of a Client Money Protection scheme, also a legal requirement, and do not have any professional memberships.
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 Chambers Estates has failed to do. Although there is no evidence to suggest the agent is still trading, its registration with Companies House is still active.
“We have advised the landlord of the agent’s status and advised that payment can be pursued in the courts. We want to make consumers aware in case Chambers Estates appears to start trading again. It is also a reminder to consumers to ensure they use an agent which is a member of a redress scheme.”