The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has unveiled three agent expulsions, including one revealing further details surrounding Chew Valley Estates.
All three are no longer trading, making it unlikely that complainants will get their money back and leaving them facing going through the court system if they want to try.
EYE reported last month that Chew Valley Estates insisted it has resigned and had not been thrown out of the redress scheme for failing to pay redress to a landlord.
However, a TPO update published today showed the Bristol-based firm had been expelled after owing a landlord £5,200.
TPO revealed that a landlord had made a number of complaints regarding the conduct of Chew Valley Estates, including that it had failed to pass on £4,800 of rent, didn’t arrange for the security deposit to be returned and misled the complainant regarding an offer the sitting tenants had made to purchase the property.
Chew Valley Estates had been ordered to refund the complainant the £4,800 rent owed as well as £400 for the shortcomings in communication.
No payment was made despite a monthly payment plan being agreed and the agent has therefore been expelled.
In the second case, Soham-based Let365co Ltd, trading as 365 Residential, has been expelled after owing a landlord £1,895 of a £3,800 award made by the Ombudsman regarding 19 properties it was supposed to be managing.
The agent was supposed to pay the award after it was found to have failed to obtain or take reasonable steps to get Gas Safety Certificates for two properties, maintain records of periodic inspections, provide the landlord with a signed tenancy agreement for one property, and carry out or provide the landlord with inventories, and had failed to respond to a complaint letter.
The Ombudsman made a total award of £3,800 and a monthly payment agreement was set up but the last payment was in June, leaving £1,895 outstanding.
Companies House documents show the agent has failed to file its latest accounts and a compulsory strike off notice was issued against Let365co at the start of December, meaning it could be dissolved in two months unless evidence is shown that it is still operational.
In the third case, east London-based JBE London was expelled after owing a tenant £2,810.
The tenant had complained about a re-letting fee she had been charged and that the agent had failed to provide her with the landlord’s contact details and failed to deal with repair and maintenance issues and didn’t help with getting her deposit back.
TPO said the tenant moved out of the property early and was required to pay a re-letting fee to cover marketing and administration.
However, an email from JBE London had stated that if they found a replacement tenant then the £995 would be fully refunded. This caused subsequent confusion when another instructed agent found the replacement tenant and the agent sought to retain these monies.
The Ombudsman did not consider it reasonable that the agent retain the full amount given the level of work that they had undertaken, and made a direction that they refund £500 of the £995 fee.
An award of £300 was also made for the agent failing to deal with maintenance and repair issues.
Additionally, TPO said JBE London took months to reply about returning the tenant’s deposit and eventually advised that the landlord wished to make deductions, but did not transfer the undisputed balance.
The Ombudsman directed JBE London to return the undisputed amount of £2,010 and to provide the tenant with any assistance she may require in progressing her claim through the relevant deposit protection scheme.
None of this was paid so the agent has been expelled.
Companies House documents show the firm was dissolved in November after receiving a compulsory strike off proposal in September.