A Birmingham-based sales and letting agent, MT Properties Central Limited (MTPC), has been expelled from membership of The Property Ombudsman (TPO) for a minimum of two years.
An investigation revealed that MTPC failed to comply with elements of TPO code of practice for residential letting agents. MTPC also did not cooperate with TPO’s investigation and to date has not paid the £2,300 award.
Birmingham Letting Agent Expelled from Property Ombudsman
MTPC was inspected after landlords complained of several issues relating to tenancies at two properties. TPO discovered evidence of poor record keeping and administration, and upheld complaints about the collection and payment of rent to landlords, alongside poor service.
The agent’s poor record keeping made it difficult to determine the rent that had been received and what had been paid to the landlords. However, TPO decided that four months’ rent was owed to the landlords regarding one property.
TPO was critical of the fact that the agent had named itself as the landlord on the tenancy agreement for the other property, instead of the actual landlords. It was observed that if this stopped the landlords pursuing the rent arrears, the agent should do so on behalf of the landlords.
TPO also noted the agent’s poor communication with the landlords, failure to pursue one tenant for full rent payments and poor complaints handling.
Additionally, TPO upheld a complaint about the handling of the termination of the contract with the landlord.
Due to poor record keeping, TPO did not reach a conclusion on a complaint about tenants being accepted by the agent without references. However, TPO said that the agent should have clearly documented that they had advised the landlords that it was not in their best interests to accept the tenants.
Following the investigation, TPO awarded the complainants a total of £2,300 compensation to cover the inconvenience and distress caused as well as outstanding rent. MTPC has not yet paid the award.
Property Ombudsman Christopher Hamer says: “My role as Property Ombudsman is to impartially review complaints made by members of the public against agents based on the evidence that is submitted to me. I aim to promote a resolution in full and final settlement of a complaint, and will determine appropriate redress where I am satisfied that the actions of an agent have disadvantaged a complainant.
“In examining the issues involved in this case, I determined there were severe shortcomings in the agent’s approach, I supported four of the five complaints and made an award in favour of the landlord.
“The agent, however, has failed to meet his obligations to pay that award and has now felt the consequences.”1
When agents join TPO, they agree to comply with its code of practice, including agreeing to cooperate with investigations and pay any awards made. MTPC did not do that.
The disciplinary and standards committee of TPO believes those are serious breaches of the code of practice and decided that MTPC should be expelled from voluntary membership of TPO for a minimum of two years.