Five more firms have been expelled by The Property Ombudsman scheme.
The expulsions mean that they if they continue to trade, they will be doing so illegally, as estate agents and lettings agents cannot flout the obligation to offer redress.
All have failed to pay money ordered by the Ombudsman to complainants.
However, one of the firms has refused on the basis that it is a developer and not an agent, and does not need to offer redress.
It has resigned from TPO, continues to trade, and said it would welcome court proceedings.
According to its website, the firm specialises in development and investment, and also offers rental accommodation and block management. It has an alert service for those looking for sales and rental properties.
In the TPO case, Estateducation was ordered to pay £375 to a prospective buyer.
The buyer had paid a £500 reservation fee but withdrew from the purchase after various difficulties, including getting Right to Buy funding, an increase in service charges from £500 to £1,200 and a reduction in the size of the property.
The Ombudsman found it reasonable that the buyer had withdrawn, and said that the company’s reaction to this was “unduly aggressive”.
The Ombudsman considered that most of the reservation fee should be paid back.
However, Estateducation strongly disagreed with this decision, and cancelled its TPO membership, saying that as a developer it does not require to be registered for redress.
It has indicated it would welcome court proceedings to sort the matter out.
Trading Standards has been told of the expulsion.
The other cases are:
In Reading, Berkshire, Concept Sales & Lettings has been referred to Trading Standards, as it also does not appear to offer Client Money Protection, also a legal requirement.
A landlord had instructed Concept on a tenant find basis.
The landlord complained about the referencing of a tenant and guarantor.
The Ombudsman supported the complaint, saying the agent had not verified the identification of the guarantor. Had it done so, it would have discovered that the signature on the form was forged.
The Ombudsman described the referencing process by Concept as “reckless”. The landlord had accepted the tenant’s tenancy application, but had not been given the full facts.
The Ombudsman ordered an award of £4,704 to the landlord, but Concept had failed to pay it.
In Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Plush Estate Agency was said by a landlord to have failed to secure a property and destroyed the landlord’s belongings.
The Ombudsman found that the property had not been secured, and that contents of the garage had been cleared.
The goods were valued by the landlord at £8,743. The Ombudsman said it could not determine the value of what had been got rid of, but proposed an award of £1,850 plus £150 for the aggravation and distress.
Plush Estate Agency failed to pay and has now been expelled.
However, TPO says that it failed to renew its annual membership ahead of the expulsion, and still appears to be trading, advertising properties with Zoopla and OnTheMarket.
It is registered with Rent Smart Wales, which has been informed of the expulsion.
In Shenley Wood, Milton Keynes, DMF Inventories, trading as DMF Sales and Lettings, failed to register a deposit of £1,377 and then failed to release to money to enable the landlord to register it.
The landlord’s complaint was upheld and the Ombudsman ordered an award of £1,677, consisting of the missing £1,377 and £300 for compensation.
DMF said it could not pay in full and a payment plan was suggested: however, the firm’s accountant has not said it could not afford any payment at all.
In Deptford, London, Chebar Homes has been expelled after failing to pass on rents to landlords. It failed to pay the £1,556 ordered by the Ombudsman.
It has also been referred to Trading Standards, as it does not appear to be a member of a Client Money Protection scheme.