The OFT has banned two men from the industry after they apparently set up an agency after coming out of jail.
Brothers Jagdeep Singh Gohlan and Avtar Singh Gohlan were convicted of kidnapping and both sentenced to four years in June 2008.
According to Companies House they set up an agency, Move Inn Estates, in Southall, Middlesex, three years later.
The Sikh pair had kidnapped their sister’s Hindu boyfriend. Coventry Crown Court heard that Avtar Gohlan, then 21, and Jagdeep, then 17, had threatened their victim with a ceremonial knife. Jagdeep had told him: “Today is your last day.”
Move Inn Estates was set up in December 2011 and according to its website, offers sales, letting and property management across West London. Visiting the site yesterday, Eye found only rental properties listed, with a guaranteed rent scheme on offer.
As the law stands, while the brothers are banned from estate agency work, there is nothing to stop them continuing as letting agents.
The matter also raises the question of who should be allowed to set up an estate agency in the first place. A spokesperson for the OFT agreed when Eye made this point, saying that bans were retrospective.
The OFT said of its decision to ban the Gohlan brothers: “Their offences, which the court convicting them found to be premeditated and to have included threats to kill, involved violence within the meaning of section 3(1)(a)(i) of the Estate Agents Act 1979.
“The OFT subsequently launched its own investigation under the Estate Agents Act 1979 and determined that the brothers were unfit to carry on estate agency work.”
Mike Coates, assistant director in the OFT’s Goods and Consumer Group, said: “These were serious offences. These orders are a reminder to all estate agents that by engaging in acts involving violence, they are likely to face a ban from the profession.”
Asked how the OFT was prompted to act, a spokesperson declined to be drawn into details as to how it came by its information, but added: “We get information from a range of intelligence sources.”
* The OFT, which is going out of existence, is to hand over responsibility for regulating estate agents to Powys County Council in Wales at the end of this month. Questions have been raised in Parliament over the suitability of Powys CC to take on this role.