A letting agent in north London has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) after receiving a complaint from a landlord who let his property under a guaranteed rent contract to The London Landlord. The company then sublet the property to the occupier.
The issue arose after the occupier complained of damp. The freeholder of the block said the damp was caused by the occupier’s use of the property, but The London Landlord disagreed and believed it was due to a roof leak.
The matter went unresolved and The London Landlord suspended payments of guaranteed rent on the basis the landlord was in breach of his repairing obligations under his lease with the freeholder.
But after investigating the issue, TPO concluded that rent payments should not have been stopped. This was because the freeholder was responsible for the condition of the roof, which The London Landlord was aware as they had communicated directly with the freeholder concerning the issue.
To add, if the damp had been caused by the occupier’s use of the property, not the roof, then the landlord would not have been in breach of his repairing obligations under the lease.
An award was made of £5,874 for unpaid guaranteed rent and £500 for aggravation, distress and inconvenience, totalling £6,374.
However, The London Landlord, based in Finchley, failed to pay the outstanding award and also refused to pay their membership renewal fees.
The Ombudsman referred them to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled that they should be expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme.
The London Landlord’s website is still active, although it doesn’t appear to be advertising any properties. They are, however, still using the TPO logo despite having their membership ceased in December 2019.
TPO has been unable to verify any other redress registration which means they may be trading illegally. The London Landlord has been referred to Trading Standards.
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 The London Landlord Limited failed to do. It appears that this agent could still be trading so this is a warning to all consumers in the local area.
“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.”