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October 2009

Agency expelled by TPO 'claimed to still be member'

Chairman issues warning

THE Foundations estate agency in Ilford has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme, still owing a £2,000 award made against it — but the company later passed itself off as a TPO member when the organisation checked on it with a mystery shop.

Bill McClintock, chairman and chief operating officer of The Property Ombudsman scheme, said: “One of the reasons leading to the award against Foundations was that it claimed to be registered with the National Approved Letting Scheme and to be a member of the National Association of Estate Agents but neither claim was true. The firm failed to renew its membership for its sales activities earlier this year. Unless this firm can prove membership of another approved scheme it will be trading illegally if it continues to sell houses.

“The complaint leading to the award was in respect of the firm’s lettings activities, for which it was a voluntary member of TPO as there is no legal compulsion for lettings agents to have redress in place. Even so, firms are required by TPO to honour awards made against them but Foundations has failed to hand over the £2,000 award following a detailed complaint.

“The Property Ombudsman scheme not only ensures consumers have access to compensation when things go wrong but also brings higher standards to the industry as a whole, whether for residential sales or lettings.

“I have given the director, Mr N Kudhail, time to renew membership in order that we can pursue the non-payment of the award.

“The expulsion should demonstrate to estate agents that TPO will enforce its rulings and to consumers that we do not accept poor standards or lax behaviour from member agents when a justifiable complaint has been made.”

Earlier this year, TPO expelled two agents, one in London and the other on Merseyside, after they failed to pay awards against them. Both quickly responded following publicity and have been allowed to re-register for their sales activities but not to become full members until their standards have been monitored for a period of time.