In the Ombudsman's first Interim Report for 2013, Christopher Hamer focusses on the impact of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) for the day-to-day business operations of estate and letting agents.
The report has been produced for the 22,0001 sales and lettings offices registered with The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme and provides case studies, commentary and guidance to assist agents in meeting their obligations under the CPRs.
Mr Hamer commented:
'Events over the past 12 months have seen the CPRs starting to be enforced by Trading Standards. While the origins of CPRs are based on European Directives that are not specifically aimed at the property sector, the forthcoming repeal of the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991, expected later this year, will potentially see Trading Standards increase activity in taking civil and/or criminal actions against property agents that fail to comply with the Regulations.'
As the UK's largest property ombudsman scheme, TPO was one of the first organisations to issue guidance on CPRs and the report includes a number of example case studies that the Ombudsman has considered.
Mr Hamer added:
'The application of CPRs change the way all property agents market properties and provide information to consumers. Part of my role as Ombudsman requires me to feedback to the industry on matters of best practice. This Interim Report is therefore targeted directly at the sales and lettings industry and includes case studies, commentary and guidance to assist agents in meeting their obligations under the CPRs.'
The CPR guidance, based on recent cases, is designed to help agents remain compliant and to improve customer service for property sellers home owners/vendors, buyers, landlords and tenants.
CPR-related case studies included in the report cover instances of misleading actions and omissions from sales and letting agents in both the re-sale and new build markets. The case studies include issues relating to:
Freehold, leasehold & commonhold title
The report also provides useful links to existing Office of Fair Trading guidance and to the Regulations themselves alongside TPO statistics for the first four months of 2013.