Outstanding fees and court

What if there are outstanding fees?

In cases where there are outstanding fees, we will make the complainant aware that you have the legal right to legal action. We will suggest that they pay the fee, or any uncontested part of it, on a “without prejudice” basis.

If you are intending or are taking legal action to recover fees under a contract, we may contact you to ask if you are prepared to place this action on hold until we have reviewed the complaint.

Should you agree the case will be allocated for review on receipt of your company file.

If, however, you are not prepared to do this and a court date is set within three months, we will suspend our review pending the court’s decision. The Ombudsman would then only be able to consider aspects of the complaint not determined by the court.

Alternatively, if we consider that we have enough time to complete our process before the hearing is due, we may escalate the case for review.


What if a court date has been set?

If a court date has been set we may contact you to ask if you are prepared to place the action on hold until we have reviewed the complaint.

If you are not prepared to do this and a court date is set within three months, we will suspend our review pending the court’s decision. We would then only consider aspects of the complaint not determined by the court.

Alternatively, if we consider that we have enough time to complete our process before the hearing is due, we may escalate the case for review.


Can the Ombudsman still review the complaint if it has been to court?

In accordance with the Ombudsman’s Terms of Reference, we are not permitted to consider aspects of a complaint that a court has already ruled on.

In view of the above, we would need to be provided with a copy of the judgement so that we can determine whether we are able to consider the complaint/s. In making this decision we will also take into consideration what was submitted to the court as evidence.

Your initial response

Who should acknowledge the complaint?

Ideally, the person who receives the complaint should acknowledge it.


What if I am unable to meet the required timescales?

If you are unable, for practical reasons, to respond within the required timescale, you should advise the complainant and provide an estimate of when you expect to be able to complete your investigation.

Is there someone else I can contact if I have concerns TPO cannot deal with?

If we can’t help you, you can try the following agencies.

Advice for tenants

Shelter is a housing and homelessness charity that also provides advice for tenants who live in rented accommodation. Each country in the UK has its own website, which is listed below. You will need to select the website for the area that covers the property you live in.

Shelter England:

england.shelter.org.uk

Live chat is available on the website

Helpline: 0808 800 4444

Emergency Telephone: 0808 1644 660

Shelter Northern Ireland:

www.shelterni.org

Telephone: 028 9024 7752

Shelter Scotland:

scotland.shelter.org.uk

Live chat is available on the website

Telephone: 0808 800 4444 

Shelter Cymru (Wales):

sheltercymru.org.uk

Telephone: 0345 075 5005 

Advice for landlords

Landlord Action (England and Wales):

www.landlordaction.co.uk

Telephone: 0330 311 4366

There is a fee for this service.

Landlord Expert:

www.landlordexpert.co.uk

There is no membership fee. 


Advice for freeholders, leaseholders and park home owners

The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) England and Wales:

This is a Government- funded, independent scheme.

www.lease-advice.org

www.lease-advice.org/wales-page


 

Advice for residential sellers and buyers

HomeOwners Alliance:

hoa.org.uk

There is a membership fee to pay.

HomeOwners Helpline (members only):

033 0088 2050 

HOA service enquiries:

033 0088 2051


Advice for newly built or converted properties

Each scheme will consider complaints against their own membership so it’s worth checking the membership before contacting them.

Consumer Code for Home Builders: (buying a new or newly converted property)

www.consumercode.co.uk 

Consumer Code for New Homes:

www.consumercodefornewhomes.com

NHBC: (building warranties)

www.nhbc.co.uk


 

General consumer or legal advice

Citizens Advice:

Citizens Advice is a free service that offers assistance for a wide range of issues. Each country in the UK has its own website, which is listed below. You will need to select the website that covers the area where your problem has happened. For example, if you live in Scotland but have a problem with a used car you bought in England, you would need to visit the English website.

Citizens Advice England:

www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Citizens Advice Northern Ireland:

www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland

Citizens Advice Scotland:

www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland

Citizens Advice Wales:

www.citizensadvice.org.uk/wales 

Citizens Advice consumer helpline: 03454 04 05 06

Textphone: 18001 03454 04 05 06

To contact a Welsh-speaking adviser: 03454 04 05 05

Textphone to contact a Welsh-speaking adviser: 18001 03454 04 05 05

Which? Legal:

Which? Legal is an independent consumer champion that can help you resolve your legal problems for a small monthly membership fee.

legalservice.which.co.uk

LawWorks:

LawWorks is a charity working to connect volunteer lawyers with people in need of legal advice, who are not eligible for legal aid and cannot afford to pay for legal services. The website has a search facility to find a service in your area.

www.lawworks.org.uk

Some universities run limited free legal advice clinics. It may be worth checking their website and searching for legal advice or legal clinic to see if they can help. 

If you receive a complaint

What counts as a complaint?

This could be something a complainant thinks that you may have done wrong, or something that you should have done but did not do. They may notify you of their complaint verbally or in writing.

Even if you believe there is no basis or justification for complaint, any complaint received should be treated seriously and in accordance with your in-house complaints procedure.


Why do I need an in-house complaints procedure?

You are obliged under your terms of membership to maintain and operate an in-house complaints procedure. This must be in writing and should explain how to complain to you and, if they remain dissatisfied, to the Ombudsman. The procedure must be made available to the complainant upon request.

Procedures may vary from agent to agent, however if you have agreed to abide by a Code of Practice there are specific timescales to adhere to. We will use these timescales as best practice when reviewing complaints against those agents registered for redress.


How should I deal with a verbal complaint?

If you receive a complaint either by telephone or in person, ensure that you make a record, noting important details such as the date and time.

At this point you should:

  • Give the complainant a copy of your in-house complaints procedure and request that the complaint is put to you in writing.
  • Tell the complainant the name of the individual to whom the complaint should be addressed. Explain that this is necessary to assist with the matter being investigated.

Follow and explain the timescales set out in our codes of practice.


Should I notify my insurers?

Yes, any complaints which might subsequently be referred to the Ombudsman should, at the earliest opportunity, be notified to your PI Insurers, as there may be a potential claim in line with the extension to the policy required to deal with any future award that may be made against you.

Client Money Protection

What is client money protection (CMP)?

CMP is an insurance that reimburses tenants or landlords if their deposit or rental income is stolen or misused by their letting agent. From 1st April 2019, CMP is a mandatory requirement for letting agents who handle client money (for example collecting rent/tenancy deposits).


How do I make a client money protection (CMP) claim?

You will need to contact the CMP scheme which the agent has joined. Agents are required to display their CMP membership on their websites and in their literature.