Landlords and tenants are being warned that Foremost Lettings Ltd (trading as Foremost Lettings), based in St. Leonards-On-Sea, has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) and is no longer trading.
A Facebook post from December 2019 states that the company has been bought out by The Property Café, which do not appear to hold any common directors with Foremost Lettings.
TPO received a complaint from a tenant who complained that Foremost Lettings did not provide sufficient information regarding the requirements for guarantors, and so was not able to provide a suitable person to fulfil this role and the proposed let did not go ahead. The complainant wished to receive a full refund for the pre-tenancy payments made.
The Ombudsman supported this complaint to the extent that no referencing of a guarantor had been carried out and the agent's proposal to refund the guarantor fee of £90 was reasonable in the circumstances. Foremost Lettings retained the rest of the pre-tenancy payment as they had carried out work in preparation for the tenancy.
A complaint was also raised about complaints handling, which the Ombudsman supported as there was no evidence that the tenant was provided with a copy of the agent's internal complaints procedure when they had first raised their complaint. An award of £50 was made for the shortcoming making the total award owed to the tenant by the agent £140.
Foremost Lettings Ltd failed to pay the award and The Ombudsman referred them to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled that they should be expelled from TPO scheme.
Foremost Lettings Ltd is no longer trading, their website is no longer active, and they do not appear to be members of any professional bodies or be actively advertising properties on any of the main portals.
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 Foremost Lettings Ltd failed to do. It appears that this agent is no longer trading, which is frustrating for the tenant who is owed outstanding monies.
“We would like to remind consumers to ensure they always use an agent which is a member of a redress scheme (The Property Ombudsman or The Property Redress Scheme) and holds Client Money Protection.”