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July/August 2009

Expelled agents agree to pay up

TWO estate agencies expelled by The Property Ombudsman service at the end of May have now agreed to pay the awards made against them.

The agents are Brooklands, of Newton-Le-Willows, Merseyside, and DP Estates, of Crouch Hill, London N4.

Property Ombudsman Christopher Hamer made awards totalling £3,724 against Brooklands following two complaints and £200 against DP Estates following a single complaint.

“DP Estates have now paid the award in full and Brooklands is paying in stages at its own request,” said Bill McClintock, chief operating officer of The Property Ombudsman service.

“Neither firm has been re-admitted as voluntary members of The Property Ombudsman service but will be allowed to register under the terms of the Consumers, Estates Agents and Redress Act to sell residential property.

“Lettings activity by either firm will not be covered unless, and until, The Property Ombudsman service disciplinary and standards committee agrees to re-admit the firms to full membership.

“This is not likely to happen for some time as we will want to establish that they are trading satisfactorily for both sales and lettings.

“There has been an impression given in a trade publication that it had intervened on behalf of Brooklands and that the firm was paying a percentage of the award to gain re-admission.

“This is simply not true. No third party has intervened, nor ever could, as the Ombudsman does not negotiate discounts on awards so that firms can stay within our scheme.

“They either pay the awards against them, thereby complying with the terms of their membership, or risk expulsion.

“With regard to Brooklands, the stage payments of the awards must be kept up or the firm’s registration will be cancelled and it will once again be unable by law to sell residential property, as happened in the period after its expulsion.

“When estate agents join the scheme they agree to abide by the decisions of the Ombudsman and pay awards made against them. If they fail to do this then they risk being expelled, as happened here.

“It is extremely rare for agents to ignore the Ombudsman’s decisions and these expulsions show we have effective sanctions when needed. It is disappointing that both agents were reluctant to pay the awards and apparently forced into doing so by the publicity.

“Ultimately, lack of registration with an approved redress scheme means no UK estate agency can take any part in residential property sales.

“Those who ignore the law possibly face a fine of up to £1,000 from local authority trading standards officers, who in both cases were made aware of our decision regarding these two firms.”

Two firms expelled by Ombudsman >>