Ombudsman Win

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    Ombudsman Win

    I've been wrangling with a freeholder's 'managing agent' for many years and although parft of the disagreement remains unresolved, after several years of inconpetence by the agent, decided to take it to the Property Ombudsmam...........and won. It wasn't a mega-bucks award and I genuinely wasn't in it for the money (I wanted the ruling that the agent was indeed 'deficient'), but if anyone is considering heading down this road, my advice would be 'go for it'. It's fairly straightforward, if a little bureaucratic and slow, but common sense and reason seem to prevail. Hapy to share more details if anyone is interested.

    #2
    Well done, congratulations!
    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

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      #3
      Good work, and thanks for the info.

      I have also used Ombudsmen (if there is such a word) a couple of times to escalate problems where necessary, and it did prove useful.
      There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

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        #4
        Whoop whoop well done!!!!

        Comment


          #5
          Well done, it will be appreciated if you will please share brief details with us. What was the reason for not dealing with part of the complaint and how is that to be resolved?

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks everyone. The part not addressed (nor did I ask them to) is a long-running dispute over sub-letting fees. The Ombudsman specifically excludes actual or potential judicial aspects.
            There were three legs to my desired review:
            1. Communication. Basically they're ****. Numerous letters and e-mails simply were ignored and/or turnaround times were ludicrously long I sent a spreadsheet with a sample of 20 and offered the 'originals' if required. £100 awarded
            2. Invoicing. Sometimes late, a couple missing completely and then 'admin fees' added for non-payment. £100 awarded
            3. Complaints. As most will know, one has to exhaust the internal procedure before heading for the Ombudman. Their process was pretty poor and each 'level' of complaint was supposed to go 'up' the organisational structure. It started well, but after the Operations Manager went 'down' to an associate! Various other interactions were pretty amateur. £100 awarded.

            So £300 in total, but I wasn't in it for the money but to get independent proof of their incompetence!!

            Comment


              #7
              Well done again, will you please give some indication of the period covered by the dispute, it makes a difference if the £300 was over say one year or say ten years.

              Will you please also clarify whether or not you are being asked to contribute towards a management fee because some of the points are questioning the quality of the service which would normally be considered by a tribunal if you are contributing directly towards the cost..

              Comment


                #8
                Isn't the Property Ombudsman just a trade body for estate agents, with no legal standing ?

                Comment


                  #9
                  The Property Ombudsman is approved by the Government to provide an Alternative Dispute Resolution service to consumers and property agents.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by eagle2 View Post
                    Well done again, will you please give some indication of the period covered by the dispute, it makes a difference if the £300 was over say one year or say ten years.

                    Will you please also clarify whether or not you are being asked to contribute towards a management fee because some of the points are questioning the quality of the service which would normally be considered by a tribunal if you are contributing directly towards the cost..
                    Oddly, aspects of the complaint go back many years - certainly 4-5. However, the Ombudsman advised that they were only able to 'go-back' for a maximum period ('....I would like to start by confirming that TPO are unable to consider events that occurred
                    more than 12 months prior to the Complainant bringing the issues... ) and as matters had deteriorated during that latter period, that suited me.

                    I am paying a management fee but as it's an over-60s apartment that goes to the premises management. My claim was agains the agent of the landowver/freeholder (they're pretty much the same thing...)

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Many thanks for the additional information. It is interesting that the Ombudsman has made an award of £300 if he is only considering the last 12 months, that is more than agents would normally charge and much more than they would charge for dealing with only the non service charge items. So he is expecting the agent to provide a service for nothing although I accept that the freeholder and managing agent are synonimous in this case.

                      It is worth comparing with a leaseholder who has a complaint against an agent who is dealing with the service charges. In that case, the Ombudsman would not become involved, he would say that it is a legal matter and if the leaseholder applies to a Tribunal, he is unlikely to achieve a similar result.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        It's probably a valid comparison as it is primarily a 'lack of service' issue but of course the freeholder's agent makes their cut from my ground rent and he other sums they try to keep charging me for, so it's debateable whether I'm a 'customer' at all (i.e the freeholder is the actual customer of their agent).

                        However, surely if a leaseholder has a dispute with a management company over service levels (i.e responsiveness, adherence to procedure etc) then the O would play a part as it's not a legal matter, but one of receiving a service that's been paid for?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I suspect that if a leaseholder is paying a service charge which includes a management fee, the Ombudsman would say that it falls outside his jurisdiction and it is a matter for a Tribunal because the leaseholder is challenging the quality of the service and therefore his remedy is to challenge whether or not that part of the service charge is payable in full or at all.

                          Your case differs because the freeholder is paying any agent's fees and you have been compensated for the time and inconvenience caused by the agent's failure to respond to correspondence, invoice correctly and deal with your complaint adequately.


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