Date issued: 28 June 2019
A Professional Standards Tribunal has upheld Colchester Borough Council’s decision to fine a property manager £5000 for failing to join a property redress scheme.
Farzad Zarandi, of Vicarage Road, Great Baddow, had appealed the council’s decision to fine him £5000 following a series of investigations into his activities.
The council, which had several previous dealings with Zarandi, became aware he was involved with at least 16 properties in the borough, seven of which he was managing on behalf of others.
Early in 2018, private sector housing officers notified Zarandi that he was legally required to join a property redress scheme – advice he ignored – and in May 2018 fined him the maximum amount for the offence.
Although he joined a redress scheme immediately thereafter, the council pursued the fine and issued a final notice on 1 October 2018.
Zarandi appealed but, following a review of the evidence on 23 May 2019, Judge Jacqueline Findlay, of the Professional Regulation Tribunal, dismissed the plea.
In summing up, Judge Findlay determined that it is up to managing agents to ensure compliance with the law, adding: “Mr Zarandi cannot escape the onus on him by saying the Respondent [Colchester Borough Council] did not tell him.”
Councillor Adam Fox, Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “Property redress schemes exist for good reason: to ensure residents and landlords who receive services from letting agents and property managers can complain if they receive poor service.
“With increasing numbers of people dependent on the private rented sector for accommodation, we need to ensure homes are safe and residents can have their complaints resolved if their homes are not well-managed.
“One of the aims of the council’s Strategic Plan is to increase the supply of good quality homes by using legal powers to improve standards in the private rented sector. The outcome of this case is an excellent example of the work the council is doing to achieve this.”
Information about property redress schemes is available on the council’s website. Any residents who are dissatisfied with the property management services they receive can ask for details of the property manager’s complaints procedures and their redress scheme membership. If residents find that a letting agent or property manager is not a member of a redress scheme, then they are advised to contact the council’s Private Sector Housing Team.