Changes to The Property Ombudsman's Terms of Reference

Published on Tuesday, 31 October 2023.

Dear Member,

With effect from 1st November 2023, our Terms of Reference will be changing in order to:

  • ensure that TPO powers provide a level playing field between members and complainants
  • bring TPO’s powers in line with other Ombudsman services
  • focus redress on putting consumers back in the position they would have been in before the dispute arose

Below details the 5 specific changes and how they impact member agents.

Full details can also be found here: Corporate Reference, Policy and Procedures

Paragraph 10B - This change mainly relates todownload.gif dual fee cases, where consumers are faced with paying two commission fees, but may not want to make a complaint about one or more of the agents involved.

Often in these cases, the consumer only complains about one agent, usually the first agent. However, to determine these cases it is imperative that both agents’ actions are considered. The ability of the Ombudsman to initiate a complaint where it would be in the interests of the consumer now allows this to happen.

This change will ensure timescales around dual fee cases will significantly reduce, helping both consumers and TPO agents resolve matters more quickly.

Paragraph 24 - In a small minority of disputes, evidence requested from agents and consumers is not produced until a proposed decision has been issued. At that point the decision has to be reviewed again increasing the time for disputes to be resolved.

This change entitles the Ombudsman to make a decision in the absence of agents or consumers pro-actively engaging with TPO’s processes.


Paragraph 35 - Often TPO’s review process highlights areas where shortcomings are apparent but haven’t led to a consumer suffering any detriment.

This change allows the Ombudsman to help member agents by highlighting areas of business practice that could be improved, helping TPO agents be the best agents that they can.

Paragraph 42 - In line with similar schemes, this update requires members to pro-actively inform TPO where awards and directions are complete.

This change will ensure the closure of the dispute from both member and consumer perspectives, allowing both parties to move on.

Paragraph 51 - Members will benefit from advice from TPO where improvements in their service have been identified in consideration of a specific complaint

This change formalises the process of best practice letters which are issued where the Ombudsman sees business practices that could be improved. The letter will provide specific advice to member agents to help them fix issues to ensure similar issues do not re-occur.