Tower Hamlets estate agents who refused to pay tenants expelled from ombudsman
- Credit: Open licence
Two Tower Hamlets estate agents have been stripped of their ability to operate after they failed to pay tenants they owe money.
The estate agents Lang & Ward in Canary Wharf and William Huxely in Bow were both kicked out of the Property Ombudsman (TPO) after they failed to obey its orders to pay tenants who won their claims against them.
Estate agents have to sign onto a government-approved redress scheme like TPO so consumers can get an independent review of their grievances.
Not signing onto a redress scheme is illegal.
William Huxley lost and didn't pay complaints from two tenants.
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One paid the agent £7,000 in an advance rental payment, six weeks' deposit and an admin fee.
But only a few days later they found the property wasn't even available to rent.
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While the firm insisted they paid all the money back, TPO found it still owed £3,433 and ordered £250 compensation on top of that.
In the second case, the landlord pulled out of the tenancy the day it was due to start. The tenant had paid £4,400 to get the property.
William Huxley agreed to pay them a refund, but only paid £2,000. The Ombudsman ordered them to pay the outstanding amount and £250 for the distress, aggravation and inconvenience caused.
Lang & Ward made an offer of a year-long contract with water bills included, but the tenant found that this wasn't the case in the contract.
There were other inconsistencies as well, including that the contract was for three years, not one.
The agent said corrections would be made, but later said the landlord didn't want the water bill included.
The tenant pulled out of the deal and asked for their £500 deposit back. The landlord and the agent refused, saying they had done the work it had paid for.
TPO rejected this, although it said references had been checked and a tenancy agreement prepared (the one with errors).
It ordered the firm to pay £200 of the deposit and £50 for to "complaint handling failures".
It didn't pay the amount.
Though the websites for both the firms have been taken down, TPO said it wanted to make sure people were aware of their past in case they start trading again.
And despite the ruling and the firms apparently shutting their doors, the tenants have still been left out of pocket.
A spokeswoman for TPO said it was important for prospective tenants to make sure their agents have client money protection, which protects their money.
CMP was made a legal requirement in March this year.
Lang & Ward and William Huxely did not respond to a request for comment.