An MP is intervening in a case dealt with by The Property Ombudsman after one of his constituents had issues with the way TPO dealt with his claim against his letting agent, Purplebricks.
Mark Tami, who represents Alyn and Deeside, has taken up the case with Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, citing a claim that TPO has not upheld contractual law.
In the case, there is a dispute over how much TPO awarded the landlord, Munro Arnold.
TPO insists it was £1,792. Mr Arnold says it was £200.
Mr Arnold said that he had originally been offered £1,342 by Purplebricks in spring of last year, but he declined and tried to negotiate more.
Mr Arnold said: “They sent the sum, regardless, before I ever contacted TPO.
“Then in July this year, TPO made two awards for stress, anxiety and inconvenience of £100 each and also reinstated a settlement of £250 from Purplebricks – which again I had declined.”
While the offers were declined, Mr Arnold says that Purplebricks paid its money into his bank account after TPO reinstated it, despite him still not wanting to accept it as any kind of settlement. Mr Arnold claims that on both occasions Purplebricks made the payments not as settlement, but as rent refunds.
Mr Arnold, a retiree in poor health now living abroad, had originally tried to sell the property in Chester through Purplebricks.
After six months with no sale, he then instructed the agent on a rental basis.
He says that a tenant was found but who then wanted to leave after the agent did not address maintenance issues that he says he knew nothing about.
Purplebricks – without his knowledge – then gave consent to the tenants to terminate their tenancy a few months into a fixed term 12 months tenancy.
This negated both the rental guarantee insurance cover, and the role of the guarantor.
Loss of rent, the condition of the property, the allegation that Purplebricks did not conduct an end of tenancy inspection, plus re-letting costs through another agency, and lack of paperwork led to an eight-month dispute over the deposit which eventually went to arbitration with DPS, a period in which Mr Arnold involved a solicitor.
Mr Arnold then went to TPO and says his complaints about Purplebricks’ neglect, failures in communication and not meeting their duty of care were fully upheld.
However, he refused to accept the award offered, describing it as “derisory”.
TPO advised legal action via the Small Claims Court to recover his losses from the tenant. This failed – he says because Purplebricks supplied paperwork late, which the court would not accept.
This lost him another £300 in court fees.
Altogether, he believed he is owed £2,289.
The case was then looked at again, by an independent reviewer, who reported earlier this month.
She found that TPO had dealt with Mr Arnold’s complaint properly, other than re-letting costs.
She also said that Mr Arnold had had incorrect evidence about that, which TPO had available to it when it made its decision.
In his letter to Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick, Mr Tami says that while TPO found that “Purplebricks gravely failed to meet” standards, his constituent believed that Purplebricks’ failures were not understood, recognised or compensated by TPO.
The letter says: “Mr Arnold is concerned that Ms Sporle [Ombudsman Katrine Sporle] has not upheld contractual law.”
The MP called on the Housing Secretary to instigate a review of TPO’s handling of Mr Arnold’s case and why he has not been fully compensated.
EYE invited both TPO and Purplebricks to comment, but neither wished to.