Landlords owed thousands following collapse of estate agents

Two property landlords who say they are owed thousands of pounds by collapsed estate agent Homepoint say they were never even informed that the company was going into liquidation.

Home Point Lettings, which had an office in Castlecroft Road, Wolverhampton, has gone into liquidation
Home Point Lettings, which had an office in Castlecroft Road, Wolverhampton, has gone into liquidation

Last month the Express & Star revealed how Homepoint Estate Agents Ltd, which had branches in Wolverhampton, Walsall, Stourbridge and Birmingham, had collapsed with debts of £1.3 million, and a new company, called Point to Home, had been set up by the former director's wife.

But two property landlords now claim they are also owed money, but were not informed about Homepoint's demise and are not included on a list of creditors.

Sucha Singh Bhatti, who owns a house converted into three flats in Goldthorn Park, Wolverhampton, said the first he knew about Homepoint's collapse was when he went into the former company's office in Walsall in February to chase up unpaid rent.

"When I got there, the chap I was supposed to see was a bit abrupt, he told me the company had gone bust and said 'I shouldn't be talking to you'," said Mr Bhatti.

"He said a new company was now operating from the office, and I would have to talk to the liquidators."

He said in January he had been sent a letter asking him to update some details with his bank, as the rent would be paid through a different account, and he was surprised when his bank told him a different company name was being used.

Mr Bhatti said he was owed £2,000 in rent, and was also concerned about one of his tenants who was vulnerable.

He said the money had been paid to Homepoint in housing benefit.

"I'm not a wealthy man, I'm 70 years old, I only bought the properties because my pension wasn't very good, and I thought it would help fund my retirement," he said.

Linga Green, who owns rental properties in Brierley Hill and Lye, said she was not informed about the company's collapse either, and has now put in a claim for approximately £2,500 in unpaid rent.

She also said the money had been paid to the company in housing benefit.

Mrs Green, who lives in Kidderminster, said she had problems receiving her rent ever since Homepoint took over the management of her property.

Sunil Bhatoa, who worked as a self-employed gas engineer and maintenance worker for Homepoint said he was also owed a lot of money for jobs he had done for the company.

The Express & Star revealed last month that insolvency experts Moore had been appointed to handle the liquidation of Homepoint.

The company, run by Ajit Singh Pooni, of Ilmington Drive, Sutton Coldfield, owed more than £1.3 million to 328 creditors.

Homepoint's client book had been transferred to a new company, called Point to Home, which was operating out of Homepoint's old offices in Bridge Street, Walsall, and was being run by Mr Pooni's wife Charnjit Kaur Sidhu.

Major creditors include HM Revenue & Customs, which is owed £72,078 in unpaid VAT, and Lloyds Bank, which is owed £160,347, which includes a £50,000 loan through the Government’s Bounce Back scheme. Mr Pooni himself is also seeking the repayment of a £287,924 loan he gave to the company, and a further £107,520 owed to himself and his wife.

A report to creditors blamed changes in government legislation in 2019, which prohibited letting agents charging fees to tenants. It said the first coronavirus lockdown resulted in a 50 per cent reduction in fees received by the company while it could not carry out viewings or valuations. It said that after reopening at the end of May last year, the company’s income remained substantially reduced.

Dudley Council's trading standards department is investigating the collapse of the company.

The Express & Star tried to contact Mr Pooni through Point to Home, but was unable to do so.

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