Agents: Don’t risk a £5,000 fine…

We want to express to every letting and property management agent, how vital it is to sign up to one of three government authorised consumer redress schemes. It’s already a legal requirement for estate agents to be signed up with these redress schemes, but it’s soon to be for many letting agents. From October 1st, every agent must be signed up to either the Property Redress Scheme, Ombudsman Services Property or the Property Ombudsman.If you’re not signed up then you could be at risk of being fined up to £5,000. This law will be regulated by local council trading standards offices who are being charged for policing the law.

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Recently announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government, the law has ended uncertainty over the compulsory redress scheme legislation. This change in the redress scheme legislation has been brought up regularly and we can finally inform you that the law will require agents to join a redress scheme from October 1st 2014.

Following this announcement, we’ve outlined these redress schemes, so it’s clearer for every agent what you’re signing up to.

The Property Redress Scheme   

PRS

A new consumer protection scheme for the property industry. This scheme is straightforward and designed to resolve your consumer complaints if your system fails to comply. Their complaints system revolves around three main stages, these are:

1. The Agent will first be given the opportunity to resolve the complaint.

2. The PRS offers a mediation service to resolve the complaint.

3. The PRS Ombudsman will make a binding decision on the complaint.

As well as their complaint system, the PRS has an advisory council made of industry experts who will guide you through the PRS system.

The PRS credentials can be read below:

‘The PRS is a trading name of HF Resolution Ltd which is a wholly owned subsidiary of HFIS PLC.

HFIS PLC are specialists in the Property Industry with over 15 years’ experience in providing insurance solutions through its Total Landlord Insurance and associated products. Since 2007 HFIS PLC has been the scheme administrator for the my deposits, tenancy deposit protection schemes throughout the UK and now offers the only non-trade body client money protection membership scheme through CM Protect Ltd. HFIS PLC also provides administrative support to both the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) and No Letting Go Inventory Management.’

To find out more about the Property Redress Scheme please click here. http://www.theprs.co.uk/

Ombudsman Services Property

OSP

The second redress scheme is the Ombudsman Services Property. As an independent service within the property industry, they can be trusted fairly and the board prides itself on this. As a redress scheme, they can sort out your complaints or disputes you may receive during the letting process.

The Ombudsman Services Property are experts in dispute resolution and offer a friendly and down to earth approach. To find out more please click here. http://www.ombudsman-services.org/downloads/12%20-%200305%20OS%20Corporate%20Brochure_V4J_04_04_AW2.pdf

The Property Ombudsman

TPO

 

The last redress scheme is the Property Ombudsman. Established in May 2009, this scheme is the longest running of the two redress schemes. The scheme offers a free, fair and independent service for dealing with disputes. It is the Ombudsman’s role to reach a resolution in the quickest way possible. By reporting directly to the TPO Council, the scheme is totally independent of all agents.

The scheme also has its own code of practice which every agent should follow once signing up to the scheme. To read this code of practice in full please click here.

http://www.tpos.co.uk/downloads/TPOE22%20Code%20of%20Practice%20for%20Residential%20Letting%20Agents%20Effective%20from%201%20August%202014.pdf

The scheme addresses that complaints must be handled in the manner as described below:

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.

To find out more about the Property Ombudsman redress scheme please click here. http://www.tpos.co.uk/about_us.htm

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Alex Evans

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