We wrote to members earlier this year to advise that new regulations would be introduced in 2015 that will make it a legal requirement for every agent to display their TPO membership.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015, known as the ‘ADR Regulations’, officially came into force in October 2015 and we’ve seen local Trading Standards offices take significant action against agents failing to comply.
What are ADR regulations & what do they mean for TPO agents?
The ADR Regulations are derived from a European Directive, which aims to promote consumer confidence in domestic and cross-border markets. They are the first of their kind as they apply to all business sectors in the UK, which must:
• Advise complainants of their redress membership
• Display the contact details of their redress scheme and the new* 12 month timescale for referring disputes
Read all about it! Trading Standards take action
With the Regulations now in place, Trading Standards Offices across the country are carrying out spot checks and imposing fines for agents failing to display their redress membership, which the media has covered extensively in several recent articles (please see ‘Useful links’ at the end of this article).
We’ve also published a checklist to help TPO members reduce their risk and raise their standards.
• The new regulations state firms must display the name and contact details of their ADR provider. Please ensure your TPO membership is stated in your contract terms, along with a link to the scheme’s website (www.tpos.co.uk)
• Trading Standards Offices have been looking at company websites so please ensure TPO’s name and website address is featured on your website so consumers know where they can refer a complaint to
TPO’s Terms of Membership also state that members are required to:
o Prominently display the TPO logo in the window of all your offices
o Ensure copies of TPO’s latest Codes of Practice and the TPO Consumer Guide is available in all your offices
Best practice: Go above and beyond
Rather than simply displaying the TPO logo to meet the requirements of the new ADR Regulations, we urge members to use it as a marque of excellence and have published some examples of best practice below:
• Talk to your clients: Have you considered how you can refer to your TPO membership during market appraisals and viewings to differentiate yourself from the competition?
• Share TPO’s free guidance: TPO’s new website has a number of tools and guides you can offer consumers for peace of mind
• Enhance your staff training: Do you brief new starters on your firm’s TPO membership in their inductions? By giving staff the tools they need to talk about your company’s TPO membership they will have the confidence to proactively talk about the scheme, provide reassurance and answer enquiries
• Go digital: Does your website, social media and email footers include reference to your TPO membership?
Make your TPO membership your no.1 marketing tool
By joining TPO you can guarantee consumers the right to independent redress through the UK’s largest government-approved dispute resolution service to protect them from unfair practices.
Your TPO membership is a marketing tool which demonstrates your commitment to the highest service standards and differentiates your offering from other traders on the high street. By agreeing to follow TPO’s CTSI-approved Codes of Practice, you can demonstrate your commitment to providing the highest customer service, which meets and exceeds the latest consumer laws.
As an approved ADR scheme* and the UK’s largest property dispute resolution service, I’d like to take this opportunity on behalf of TPO to thank you for your ongoing commitment raising standards in the industry and hope you will use this opportunity to proudly display your TPO membership.
TPO Vice Chairman
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