Housing watchdogs have warned landlords not to deal with rogue letting agents who are not signed up with a government redress scheme.
Trading rules demand letting agents belong to an independent scheme that deals with customer complaints.
The warning comes as The Property Ombudsman (TPO) threw out three letting agents owing landlords and tenants thousands of pounds.
- Let365co trading as 365 Residential in Soham, Cambridgeshire, owes a landlord £1,895 of a £3,800 award made by the ombudsman after complaints that his portfolio of 19 homes were poorly managed
- JBE London owes a tenant £2,810 for badly handling a tenancy renewal and rudeness
- Chew Valley Estates in Bristol owes a landlord £5,200 over financial mismanagement, including failing to pay rents collected from tenants
Gerry Fitzjohn, non-executive director and chairman of TPO’s Finance Committee, said: “As a member of TPO, agents must comply with awards made by the ombudsman, which 365 Residential has failed to do.
“This is a warning to consumers as the company does appear to still be advertising properties for sale and to let. We would like to remind consumers to ensure they always use an agent which is a member of a redress scheme.”
Fitzjohn added there was no evidence to suggest JBE London or Chew Valley Estates were still trading.
Every sales and lettings agent in England must register with a government-approved redress scheme, which allows consumers to have complaints reviewed independently if a dispute arises that the consumer cannot resolve with the agent directly.
An agreement between the two official redress schemes (TPO and The Property Redress Scheme) means Chew Valley Estates cannot register with either until the landlord award is paid.
Letting agents commit an offence if they trade while unregistered with a redress scheme.