The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme, which offers an independent and impartial dispute resolution service to consumers who have been unable to resolve their disputes with a registered property business, has appointed a new Deputy Ombudsman, Lesley Horton, who will work alongside Property Ombudsman, Rebecca Marsh.
Lesley joins TPO as a skilled compliance and regulatory specialist, with a wealth of experience in internal governance, risk management, and complex decision-making. Her career started at the Solicitors Regulatory Authority, where she held a number of roles including as an integral part of the project team in operationalising the Legal Services Act. Latterly, Lesley worked in a FTSE 100 technology company, supporting the business in managing risks and process improvement. In addition to her substantive roles, Lesley sat on the Ethics and Integrity Panel Member at the Office for Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria for several years and is currently an Independent Decision Maker for The Bar Standards Board.
The role of Deputy Ombudsman was created in 2017 to support a more efficient complaints process. As TPO enters a period of development to support upcoming industry changes, as set out in the RoPA report, Lesley will play a critical role in reviewing casework, helping TPO to grow its future services and streamlining existing processes to ensure consumer complaints are handled with the greatest accuracy and efficiency.
Commenting on her appointment, new Deputy Ombudsman, Lesley Horton, said:
“The property industry as a whole, and in particular estate and letting agents, are heading towards a significant era of change with the new proposed regulatory framework. This makes it an exciting time to be joining The Property Ombudsman, helping to support agents through the challenges and opportunities this will bring whilst, ensuring consumers have a clear route to redress when needed.”
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NOTES TO THE EDITOR
What is The Property Ombudsman?
The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme offers an independent and impartial dispute resolution service to consumers who have been unable to resolve their disputes with a registered property business. The scheme was established in 1990. The Ombudsman can provide redress to place the consumer back in the position they were before the complaint arose, achieving a full and final settlement of the dispute and all claims made by either party. Where appropriate, the Ombudsman can make compensatory awards in individual cases up to a maximum of £25,000 for actual and quantifiable loss and/or for aggravation, distress and/or inconvenience caused by the actions of a registered agent. Average awards are around £600 where a complaint is supported.
At 31 December 2021, registered members of TPO comprised 14,780 sales members, 12,893 lettings members, 1,520 Residential Leasehold Management members, and 9,826 members from Other Jurisdictions (such as surveyors and property buying companies).
Whilst TPO charges registered agents an annual subscription and, where appropriate, case fees, the Ombudsman is accountable to the TPO Board which is chaired by a member of the House of Lords and with the majority of its members being independent from the industry.
The Ombudsman is not a regulator and does not have the authority to take regulatory or legal action against a property business. This is the role of Trading Standards. However, registered businesses can be referred to the TPO Compliance Committee, which has the power to expel members from the scheme and/or report them to the appropriate regulatory and enforcement authorities.
The Ombudsman's Terms of Reference, Codes of Practice, Agent Guidance, Consumer Guides and other documents about the operation of the scheme are available on our website (www.tpos.co.uk) together with previous annual reports, case summaries, further explanation of governance arrangements and a full list of registered agents.
For more information about TPO, please visit our website at www.tpos.co.uk