VTUK’s guide to the TPO changes: Part 1

From August 1st 2014, the Property Ombudsman is revising its code of practice for all sales and letting agents. To make this transition easier for agents, we will be summarising each section of these changes within this post.

TPO

General Provisions

This section of the changes clearly state how all agents and their staff, must comply with the code of practice. It states how agents should be fair and not seek business using methods that are oppressive or involve dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation. It also goes on to state how the letting or selling process must be fair between the agent and other possible parties.

Duty of Care and Conflict of Interest

Following on from this, the next section goes on to elaborate how you must avoid any conflict of interest. It expresses how customer requirements are important and how a customer fact find must be completed. This is so the specific requirements of the landlord or potential tenant are taken into consideration. The landlord must immediately be notified in writing, if you find out the tenant has applied to use any service that is an association of you or a connected person, in connection with the letting or management of a property.

Advertising for New Business (Canvassing).

Advertisements must not be placed on properties that do not exist. A fair method of advertisement must be used when seeking new properties or applicants. If a tenant or landlord asks you to stop canvasing them you must act promptly.

house

Market Appraisal

When advice is given to someone about to let a property, any figure given must be kept. As well as this, you must advise a potential client, if they need to obtain any necessary consent. This could be from joint owners, mortgage lenders or superior landlord. This section also suggests how as a letting agent, you must clearly notify tenants or clients of what they are required to do.

Instructions, Terms of Business, Fees, Charges and Termination of Client Agreement.

This section points out how it’s important to inform your client, that you’re a member of the TPO. It goes on to explain how a client must not be harassed for any information. As well as this, an alternative agency must not assist you in renting a property without the client’s permission. If you are given permission, you are liable at law for the actions of the agent. It’s important to follow the code of practice given to you by the agent even if they are not part of the TPO. It’s important to ensure the client understands your terms of business and when they need to make payments that are outstanding. Lastly, this section sums up how agents should give clients written confirmation of their desire, for you to act as a letting agent.

There are several ways a terms of business must be written. A terms of business must be written fairly and take note of the following:

• To actively flag any entitlement to renewal commission and the scale of charges that will apply;

•   Make clear that a liability to renewal commission will only arise where you are instructed to renew the tenancy or where the landlord has otherwise specifically agreed to your entitlement; where you intend to charge a fee for renewal of a tenancy you should remind the landlord of that liability at the time of renewal even if that liability is stated in the management agreement;

• Not include any liability to pay renewal commission where the property is sold to another landlord who retains the existing tenant;

• Not require payment of a commission in circumstances where the tenant agrees to purchase the property unless this is subject to a separate sales agreement.

The section goes on to explain further into fees and charges, termination of client agreements and subsequent changes.

Marketing and Advertising.

Following on from this, the marketing of a property must not commence until you have the clients permission. A property must also have an Energy Performance Certificate and permission from the owner. It’s important you hold a letter of authority from the client to market the property. This section also sums up the regulation around letting boards.

Published Material and Information about a Property

This highlights how you must comply with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. This requires you to disclose any information you know about the property to your clients. This section goes on to explain further into how you must comply with this regulation.

Viewing and Access to Premises.

It’s important to take instructions from your clients regarding viewings. It’s important to take a note of any feedback you receive and pass this on to clients. If you arrange a viewing, the client must be told if an offer has already been accepted. When arranging a viewing, it’s important to make sure the existing tenant has enough notice. This section then goes on to explain further into what to do in relation to accessing the property.

viewing

Offers

Offers have a specific way of being conducted in the letting and sales process. This section outlines how to conduct them correctly using a specific code of practice.

Referencing

This suggests how as an agent it’s vital to be aware of identifying fraudulent applications. Several references must also be provided by every prospective tenant to prevent fraudulent applications. This section outlines how to correctly issue a reference during the letting and sales process.

Tenancy Agreement, Inventories and Deposits

It’s important to take your time, when it comes producing a tenancy agreement. This section outlines what to do when it comes to producing a tenancy agreement. Always make sure each tenant is provided with the relevant documentation. The tenant must also be introduced to their landlord within 21 days of their agreement being signed.

It’s important to ensure any inventory or schedule of condition is prepared before the tenancy has started.  The tenant must be given up to 7 working days from receipt to read and comment upon and sign, the check in report and inventory sheet.  This section goes on to explain further into how to issue deposits, inventories and tenancy agreements.

To read the full documents outlining the change in TPO codes please click here.

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

At VTUK, we treat all our clients as partners, providing you with market leading property software. We don’t just provide you with market leading software, work hard each and every day to ensure we provide you with a total solution, and one which will help your business across four core areas: business continuity; retaining clients; winning new clients and increasing profit from each and every transaction. That’s why we’ve produced this blog, to aid you in the letting and sales process.

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To find out more about VTUK! Give us a call FREEPHONE 0800 3280460 or visit www.VTUK.com to find out how we can assist.

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