The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme has issued an updated version of its Codes of Practice for agents in the Channel Islands in order to address emerging industry issues and provide continuity in its presence across both the UK and Channel Islands. As this is the first revision to the Channel Island Codes since 2016, there has been considerable changes to incorporate factors such as GDPR requirements, dual fees and referral fees.
TPO consulted with several organisations and individuals during the review process, including Jersey Trading Standards and Jersey Estate Agents’ Association (JEAA), both of which provided a technical review of the lettings and sales codes. The new Codes are available on TPO Codes page which also offers the facility to put forward requests for future changes to the Codes.
Full details of the revisions to the Codes can be seen on the change document available here. The most significant of the changes include:
Both sales and lettings:
- Updated Data Protection requirements relating to personal information
- Requirement to disclose referral fees
- Updated publicity/canvassing requirements
- Requirement to take steps to ensure seller/landlord is entitled to instruct the agent
- 5q/5r – Dual fee paragraphs in-line with other TPO codes
- 5k - Requirement for consumers to choose to actively opt-in to use associated services
- 4e/4f/10f – requirement for property to meet minimum standards
- 7d – disclosure of potential dual fee situations
- 10j to 10m – updated deposit requirements
Baroness Diana Warwick, Chair of the TPO Board, said: “The decision was taken to carry out a full review of the Channel Island Codes to reflect continuing market developments and the obligations now placed on agents by various pieces of legislation that have been enacted.
“The Ombudsman will apply the new Codes of Practice when reviewing consumer complaints about events that have occurred after 1st November 2020 to determine whether or not a TPO registered member has breached the high level of standards required.”
Property Ombudsman, Rebecca March, added: “The rate at which new legislation has been imposed on the industry has accelerated vastly over the last five years and will continue to do so as the world around us changes. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure TPO’s Codes are as up to date and relevant as possible so that agents fully understand their responsibilities. In addition, consumers can have trust and confidence that the obligations we set for agents reduce the potential for consumer detriment to occur and that emerging issues will be considered should they wish to escalate their complaint.
“As the market changes, we continue to provide as much up to date information as possible through our guidance documents, Primary Assured Advice, newsletters, workshops and conferences, to support both members and consumers. Any emerging issues will be raised and discussed at our quarterly forums and flagged to agents at our annual conference on 30 June 2021.”
For press information, please contact:
The Inhouse Way
Tel: 01276 804411
Helen Evison: 07920 516 577
Holly Addinall: 07979 537 334
NOTES TO 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 agent. 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.
TPO is funded through membership subscriptions and case fees and is free to all consumers.
At 31 December 2018 over 15,897 sales offices and 14,746 letting offices were registered with TPO.
Whilst TPO charges registered agents an annual subscription, 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 registered agent. However, registered agents can be referred to the TPO Compliance Committee, which has the power to expel agents from the scheme and/or report them to the appropriate authorities, with the power to ban agents from carrying out estate agency business.
The Ombudsman's Terms of Reference, Codes of Practice, Consumer Guides and other documents about the operation of the scheme are available on our website (www.tpos.co.uk), together with previous annual and interim 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