UK's Property Ombudsman Expels Three Letting Agencies

Author: Rent Guarantor

10/01/2020

Three letting agencies operating in the UK have been expelled by The Property Ombudsman (TPO) after failing to comply with instructions from the TPO to honour payments, following tenant and landlord complaints. UK letting agents have come under much tougher scrutiny in 2019 and while the vast majority of them work hard to provide a great service for tenants and landlords in the UK, as with all industries there remains a small minority who fail to follow the rules or official advice and instructions.

According to news from TPO, the three agencies are from Soham in Cambridgeshire, East London and Bristol. That highlights that no single region is a target for The Property Ombudsman and nor do those agencies who have not complied with the rules all congregate together.

Failure to follow TPO instructions

The three agents all failed to follow specific instructions from TPO to reimburse tenants and landlords following complaints. The complaints were:

  • Where an agent had received rent payments from the tenants, but failed to pass those payments onto the landlord.
  • A tenant complained about a re-letting fee they were charged by the agent.
  • Where a landlord had complained about the level of service received from their chosen letting agent and TPO instructed the agency to repay a proportion of the fees to the landlord.

“As a member of TPO, agents are obliged to comply with awards made by the Ombudsman,” said Gerry Fitzjohn, Non-Executive Director and Chairman of TPO’s Finance Committee.

New powers and rules working well

While news that three letting agents have been expelled from the body doesn’t reflect the generally excellent level of service the vast majority of agencies in the UK provide for tenants and landlords, it does highlight that the stronger powers Government agencies and official property-related bodies now have, are being used correctly.

This has the effect of benefitting tenants as those agents who do act outside of the rules are being identified and punished. Meanwhile, the same is true for landlords; where they pay for a service from letting agencies but it isn’t provided correctly, action is now taken which protects other landlords experiencing a repeat of that action in the future.

Taken together, this highlights that the Government is certainly taking a more serious view of the rental market and working to ensure it works for everyone involved, including the UK economy.

However, while its clear that most Letting Agents are operating in line with the many rules they must now follow, its likely they won’t welcome the latest comments from PropTech entrepreneur, Neil Cobbold.

The CEO of rental payments processor PayProp, said if Letting Agencies want more satisfied customers then they should improve their communication with tenants and landlords.

“Proactively educating tenants on the rental process from the outset can save agents time from having to mediate unnecessary disputes between landlords and tenants” says Cobbold. “A concerted effort from agencies and landlords to provide renters with more clarity could make for a more harmonious and efficient private rented sector.”

However, with so much thought being put into improving the UK’s rental sector for everyone involved bodes well for the future of an industry that contuse to grow.