Estate agents in Whitechapel cannot trade legally until it pays £3,700 award
PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 November 2018
An estate agents in Whitechapel cannot trade legally after it was expelled from an ombudsman scheme for failing to pay sums awarded to a tenant with mental health issues.
The Property Ombudsman booted Oscar Jones Residential out of its redress scheme following the non-payment of a £3,700 award, the complaints body announced last week.
The estate and letting agent, registered at Whitechapel High Street, “encouraged” and took an upfront payment from a tenant that he could not afford and was unsuitable for, owing to his mental health and housing benefit, according to the Ombudsman.
The tenant handed over £3,200 on instruction from the agent, who advised him to send the funds and then ask the council to repay them once in the property.
Before the tenancy began, he asked to be released from the deal but was informed the money would not be given back. Instead, the agent offered him a £500 refund.
A complaint followed swiftly and ombudsman Katrine Sporle called to hear evidence from each side.
Ms Sporle awarded in the tenant’s favour, ordering Oscar Jones Residential to return the money and pay a further £500 for the “avoidable aggravation, considerable distress and inconvenience” caused.
“This particular complainant was vulnerable through his personal circumstances and health,” she said.
“Had the agent met the complainant in person prior to taking money for the proposed tenancy, it is my view that this would have become apparent.”
The company “failed” to carry out proper referencing and there was no evidence they checked out the specific requirements of the tenant or landlord, she added.
Oscar Jones Residential, who did not respond to a request for comment, did not repay the funds and was subsequently kicked out of the redress scheme, the TPO says.
This means the business cannot trade legally until it pays the award.
“As a member of TPO agents are obliged to comply with awards made by the Ombudsman, which Oscar Jones has failed to do,” said Gerry Fitzjohn, non-executive director and chairman of TPO’s finance committee.
“Consumers should be aware that the company’s website still appears to be active with properties both ‘For Sale’ and ‘To Let’ advertised.”
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