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Property Ombudsman extends lettings agency’s expulsion


The lengthening of the expulsion from two years to three follows a second complaint against Bedford-based Town and Country Management Ltd, which an associate office in Ampthill.
The firm had been ordered by Ombudsman Christopher Hamer to pay £2,243.52 to a landlord but failed to do so, or even handover the £100 “goodwill” payment it had promised.
In the second complaint, Town and Country Management failed to pay in full an award of £650 made against it by Mr Hamer. After paying £500, the firm revealed it intended to make a counter-claim against the complainant tenant and withheld £150.
The Ombudsman
also said the firm had failed to give information to tenants, not provided requested documents, and had not handed over company files, instead making a limited response to the Ombudsman’s request for information.
Company owner Mr La Mura has twice been reported to the TPO’s Disciplinary and Standards Council for breaches of its Lettings Code of Practice and non-payment of the Ombudsman’s award.
The DSC ruled after the first complaint that Town and Country Management had committed flagrant breaches of the Code and that the firm was no longer fit to have membership. It did not appeal its expulsion but failed to respond.
Now the DSC has had to consider a further complaint against a firm already in trouble for not transferring rental monies received from the tenant to the landlord, said TPO chief operating officer Gerry Fitzjohn.
He added: “The original expulsion should have been a warning to landlords and tenants about the behaviour of the firm but a second complaint arising after the first expulsion process had begun and bringing the necessity to extend the expulsion period reinforces the original view of the DSC that this lettings agency is not fit to hold membership.
“Landlords and tenants are clearly at a serious disadvantage when dealing with this firm. They will no longer be able to refer matters to the Ombudsman if they feel they have been badly treated by TCM."
Trading Standards officers have been informed of the extended expulsion.

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