The Property Ombudsman has issued warnings about two agents who have been expelled from the body.
Neither will be able to trade legally until they have made the payments ordered, because neither TPO nor the other redress scheme, the PRS, will accept them.
Canary Wharf-based OJ Residentials Ltd, trading as Oscar Jones Residential, has been expelled after failing to pay a £3,700 award.
The agent had allegedly encouraged and taken advance payment of £3,200 from a tenant who had mental health issues and was reliant on housing benefit.
On instruction from the agent, who advised the tenant to pay upfront monies and then ask the council to repay it to him once in the property, the tenant paid £3,200. This comprised £1,200 security deposit, £1,200 in the form of one month’s advance rent, and an £800 administration fee which included a £500 holding deposit.
The tenant asked to be released from the tenancy prior to its commencement but the agent contended that the money was non-refundable, although they had offered a refund of £500.
After considering evidence presented from both parties, ombudsman Katrine Sporle awarded in the tenant’s favour and ordered Oscar Jones to repay the £3,200 paid by the complainant, as well as a further £500 for avoidable aggravation, considerable distress and inconvenience.
The ombudsman said: “This particular tenant was vulnerable through his personal circumstances and health.
“Had the agent met the complainant in person prior to taking money for the proposed tenancy, it is my view that this would have become apparent.”
Oscar Jones has neither responded nor paid the award.
In another case, Manchester-based Property Solutions GB has been expelled after failing to act promptly or provide evidence for charges on repairs or other works.
Property Solutions GB failed to cooperate with the Ombudsman’s investigation, providing no evidence to contradict the landlord’s claims.
The Ombudsman awarded £2,767 in the landlord’s favour, comprising £2,192 in charges made by the agent which the Ombudsman felt should be refunded and a further £575 in recognition of the avoidable and undue aggravation.
Property Solutions GB has neither responded nor paid the award.