New figures confirm a record number of agents are now following TPO’s Lettings Code of Practice, which offers enhanced safeguards for consumers.
The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has spoken out in support of lettings legislation which makes it a legal requirement for every lettings agent and property manager in England to belong to a Government-approved redress scheme.
The lettings redress legislation was enforced to ensure every landlord and tenant can have their complaint independently reviewed, in the event of a dispute arising that they are unable to resolve with their agent.
TPO, which is the UK’s largest government-approved redress scheme, now has 13,624 lettings agents signed up and following the scheme’s unique Lettings Code of Practice, which offers consumers enhanced safeguards that go above and beyond basic property law.
The scheme has seen a 14% increase in membership since the legislation was introduced on 1 October 2014, with 85% of all lettings agents signed up to TPO.
Consumers are urged to make sure they only deal with a TPO agent to ensure that, should a dispute arise, they have grounds to raise the matter with the Ombudsman, who has the power to instruct agents to pay a compensatory award[i].
Explaining the impact of the lettings legislation, Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman, said:
“TPO helps more the 16,000 consumers every year and the cases I see concerning lettings disputes are certainly on the rise as more people are renting than ever before. We applaud the government for introducing legislation that helps us protect even more landlords and tenants from unfair practices.
“I hope the increase in membership we’ve seen means that the number of rogue agents operating illegally without redress registration is diminishing but they are still out there so it is imperative that consumers always check if their sales or lettings agent is signed up with TPO.
Katrine added: “I can only review complaints concerning agents that have joined TPO so landlords, tenants, buyers and sellers must choose their agent wisely and use the scheme’s online ‘Find a member directory’ to check if their agent is offering them the best safeguards available.”
TPO now has 34,469 branches signed up and following one of the schemes property Codes of Practice. Agents that join TPO have signed an agreement to adhere to the highest service standards possible. TPO’s Sales and Lettings Codes are the first and only property Codes of their kind to be approved by the Chartered Institute of Trading Standards (CTSI)[ii].
The scheme is a totally independent, not-for-profit organisation, which has provided a free and impartial dispute resolution service to consumers and property agents for more than 25 years.
Your complaint may be considered by the Ombudsman, if you believe that the agent has:
- infringed your legal rights; or
- failed to follow the rules and obligations set for agents under any code of practice to which they may subscribe; or
- treated you unfairly; or
- been guilty of maladministration (including inefficiency or undue delay) in a way that results in you losing money or suffering avoidable aggravation, distress and/or inconvenience
[i] Where appropriate, the Ombudsman can make compensatory awards in individual cases for actual and quantifiable loss and / or for aggravation, distress and inconvenience caused by the actions of a registered firm. The average award is in the region of £400, but the Ombudsman has the power to award up to £25,000 in extreme cases.
[ii] The Consumer Codes Approval scheme, which is operated by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, CTSI, has approved both TPO’s Sales and Lettings Codes.