Property Vibe Ltd is the second Southampton firm to be disciplined this month.
Despite leaving the scheme in 2015, after its membership ended due to its failure to pay its membership fees, Property Vibe Ltd was also disciplined for failing to refund money owed to complainants or pay an award of compensation. The Ombudsman criticised Property Vibe’s lack of response not only to the complainants but also to TPO which had provided ample opportunities to resolve this complaint without the need for a formal review.
Mr Fitzjohn added: “Both agents have failed comply with the TPO Code of Practice by not providing any evidence to support their side of the story or demonstrate an appropriate complaints handling procedure. Their reckless management has caused avoidable aggravation, distress and inconvenience.”
TPO is working closely with Southampton Trading Standards in relation to these issues.
Clive Robinson, Trading Standards Team Leader at Southampton City Council, said: “Trading Standards can confirm that we have received information both from the Ombudsman and a number of landlords and tenants. Membership of an approved ombudsman scheme is a legal requirement for all letting agents as is the proper protection of tenant’s deposits and we will be working with the Ombudsman and others to address any identified breach of the law.”
Following the agents’ expulsion, consumer complaints will now be referred to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for support and onward referral to Southampton Trading Standards.