99% of TPO agents display their fees in Swansea and Dorset
The Property Ombudsman has congratulated TPO agents in Swansea and Dorset for achieving 99% in a recent audit as part of a national campaign to make agents more aware of the law concerning letting fees.
During phase one of the campaign, 266 TPO letting agents across Swansea and Dorset were asked to provide photographic evidence to demonstrate how they complied with the law by displaying their fees in their branches and on their company websites. Any agents found to be incorrectly displaying their fees were then given the opportunity to amend and re-submit.
Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman, said: “MASSIVE Congratulations are owed to all the TPO agents operating in Swansea and Dorset for their fantastic audit results. They are leading the way for the country as a whole. The baton is now being passed to agents in Reading and Basingstoke and we look forward to seeing more great examples of firms that are meeting the requirements of the law by providing clear and transparent fees so consumers understand the commitments they are entering into."
Letting agents in Reading and Basingstoke will be targeted in a new phase of the campaign, which was announced this week following the success of the first phase. The first wave of letters have already been issued and every member agent will be contacted during the course of March and early April.
Katrine added: "The whole purpose of this campaign is to systematically support our members and help them prove that they can be brilliant. We want to educate and inform agents about the legal requirements they face."
TPO’s joint campaign with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) was announced in 2015, and despite the government subsequently announcing plans to ban agents from charging tenants upfront lettings fees, a period of consultation to draft and pass new regulations is yet to commence. In the meantime, the obligations on English and Welsh letting agents to display fees – along with redress and Client Money Protection (CMP)* scheme membership details – remain.
Furthermore, any future ban of tenant fees will not prevent letting agents from charging fees to landlords. Therefore, TPO and CTSI’s joint campaign to ensure agents display their fees in accordance with the law will continue.
Leon Livermore, Chartered Trading Standards Institute chief executive said: “We are extremely pleased by the response to the campaign. It clearly demonstrates that TPO agents are aware of their responsibilities, willing to make improvements where necessary and committed to the highest levels of consumer protection.”
Just two agents failed to comply with the audit in Dorset and Swansea (by either not responding or not addressing flagged inaccuracies), and will now be referred to the scheme’s Disciplinary & Standards Committee (DSC) for further investigation. The DSC is independent to the industry and has the powers to fine, suspend or expel an agent from TPO, as well as refer them to Trading Standards Officers, who can impose fines of up to &5,000.
Property Industry Eye recently reporting a case where the Trading Standards department in Milton Keynes issued collective fines of &36,000 following an audit of over 100 offices. Read the full story here to find out more.
To view the full press announcement, please visit the news page of the TPO website.