The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has just announced that seven estate and lettings agents have been expelled.
TPO is an independent and impartial dispute resolution service. Disputes which have not been settled between a customer and registered agent can be referred to TPO for a resolution. TPO has the power to put a customer back into the position they would have been in but for the dispute and usually settles matters on a full and final basis.
The TPO has no regulatory authority so cannot take any legal action against a registered agent. However, registered agents can be expelled from the scheme and they can be reported to a relevant authority who may ban them from carrying out their work. In London agents who have been expelled from the TPO, or other redress schemes, can also be listed on the Mayor of London’s rogue agent and landlord database.
On 3 June, TPO reported that seven estate and lettings agents had been expelled after failing to comply with the TPO codes of practice and pay subsequent awards made by the TPO totalling some £112,257.04.
TPO has reported that all of the complaints against the agents were in relation to lettings, in some cases there were multiple complaints, and all seven agents now appear to have ceased trading.
It is unfortunate that there are still agents out there that will not comply with any legislative changes either because they are not aware of them but in some cases because they consider themselves immune. It is vital that agents make themselves aware of any legislative changes ideally through professional memberships and also undertake regular courses to ensure compliance. The private rental sector is changing constantly with new legislation coming into force all the time. In order to avoid potential breaches and attract clients agents are strongly advised to ensure that they are ‘in the know.’