New Codes for TPO Member Agents

Published on Tuesday, 01 July 2014.

New Codes for TPO Member Agents

TPO has made several important changes to both the Code of Practice for Residential Letting Agents and Residential Estate Agents. The updated Codes will be effective from 1 August 2014 to reflect the latest industry best practice and legislative changes.

TPO’s Codes of Practice are unique in the industry and provide a set of standards and guidelines for members to follow that comply with all primary and secondary legislation.

The Codes are a tool for member agents to use as a ‘mark of excellence’ above their non-member industry peers to reassure buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords about the service they can expect to receive. 

Sales agents: Amendments to the Sales Code of Practice

Several important amendments and new sections have been included in this new edition of the Sales Code, concerning a wide range of topics, such as:

  • (Section 1e) General Obligations: A new form of words has been included so all agents understand their legal obligation to provide equal treatment of buyers and sellers, regardless of their race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation.
  • (Section 5l) Duration and Termination: The extension of contract cancellation periods from the current 7 calendar days to 14 calendar days, in accordance with The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, which come into force on 13 June. Click here for further information.
  • (Section 9c) Offers: The Code now explicitly states that ‘by law you cannot make it a condition of passing on offers to the seller that the person wanting to buy the property must use services offered by you or another party.’ 
  • (Section 10b) Financial Evaluation: A new section has been included to ensure agents understand that they ‘must put all offers to your seller client even if the prospective buyer has not been financially qualified at that stage.’
  • (Section 18) Glossary of Terms: This section includes several new additions and updates to clearly define terms such as ‘aggressive behaviour’ (with illustrative examples to highlight where the average consumer's freedom of choice could be impaired), what is meant by the 'average consumer' - what small print they should be expected to understand and how a consumer’s behaviour is influenced by the information an agent provides. The updated Glossary also has updated definitions for ‘harassment’, ‘material information’ and ‘transactional decision’.

* TSI logo: The updated Sales Code’s front page also includes the Consumer Code Approval Scheme logo to highlight the Code’s approval by the Trading Standards Institute (TSI), which replaced the replaced the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) scheme last year.*

Lettings agents: Amendments to the Lettings Code of Practice

Several important amendments and new sections have been included in this new edition of the Lettings Code, concerning a wide range of topics, such as:

  • (Section 1e) General Obligations: A new form of words has been included so all agents understand their legal obligation to provide equal treatment of landlords and tenants, regardless of their race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation.
  • (Section 2) Duty of Care and Conflicts of Interest: This new section highlights the steps agents must take to avoid a potential conflict of interest.
  • (Section 5f) Instructions and Terms of Business: The extension of contract cancellation periods from the current 7 calendar days to 14 calendar days, in accordance with The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, which come into force on 13 June. Click here for further information.
  • (Section 5j) Fair Contracts: The updated Code makes specific reference to renewal fees and the agent’s responsibility to communicate the liability to the landlord.
  • (Section 5n) Fees and Charges: This amendment highlights how agents must not charge the same service to more than one party in the same transaction.
  • (Section 6) Lettings Boards: This section has been expanded to include more detail and to cover topics such as multiple occupation properties and the importance of agents adhering to local legislation.
  • (Section 7) Published Material and Information about a Property: This section emphasises the compliance requirements of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and also highlights disclosing non-optional fees as per the Committee of Advertising Practice guidelines.
  • (Section 22) Glossary of Terms: This section includes several new additions and updates to clearly define terms such as ’aggressive behaviour’, 'average consumer', ‘harassment’, ‘material information’ and ‘transactional decision’.

Please use the information above and supporting documentation to brief your teams so everyone can continue to use the Codes of Practice to demonstrate their commitment to treat consumers with fairness and integrity at all times.

* Please note: TPO’s TSI approval only applies to the Sales Code at present and restrictions apply to the usage of TSI logo(s). Agents can no longer display the OFT logo under any circumstances - any breaches of this would be considered misleading to consumers and a potential criminal offence.

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