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New Codes for Sales and Lettings come into force from August 2014

Updated Codes come into force on 1st August 2014(Click to zoom)
Updated Codes come into force on 1st August 2014

TPO has made several important changes to both the Code of Practice for Residential Letting Agents and Residential Estate Agents. The updated Codes will be effective from 1 August 2014 to reflect the latest industry best practice and legislative changes.

TPO’s Codes of Practice are unique in the industry and provide a set of standards and guidelines for members to follow that comply with all primary and secondary legislation.

The Codes are a tool for member agents to use as a ‘mark of excellence’ above their non-member industry peers to reassure buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords about the service they can expect to receive.

Key actions for all TPO sales and lettings agents:
• Copies of the updated Codes of Practice and the TPO Consumer Guide should be made available in all your offices.
• Hard copies will be available to order through the Membership Team at the end of this month.
• Please ensure all members of staff are made aware of the changes so they are fully conversant with all aspects of the Codes and have good working knowledge of the law of agency.

Sales agents: Amendments to the Sales Code of Practice:
• To view the updated Sales Code please click here.
• All the Code changes are highlighted in the ‘Summary of Code changes’ (for sales) - please click here to view. 
• Key changes: several important amendments and new sections have been included in this edition concerning a wide range of topics, such as:

- (Section 1e) General Obligations: A new form of words has been included so all agents understand their legal obligation to provide equal treatment of buyers and sellers, regardless of their race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation.
- (Section 5l) Duration and Termination: The extension of contract cancellation periods from the current 7 calendar days to 14 calendar days, in accordance with The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, which come into force on 13 June. Further information and guidance can be found by clicking here.
- (Section 9c) Offers: The Code now explicitly states that ‘by law you cannot make it a condition of passing on offers to the seller that the person wanting to buy the property must use services offered by you or another party.’
- (Section 10b) Financial Evaluation: A new section has been included to ensure agents understand that they ‘must put all offers to your seller client even if the prospective buyer has not been financially qualified at that stage.’
- (Section 18) Glossary of Terms: This section includes several new additions and updates to clearly define terms such as ‘aggressive behaviour’ (with illustrative examples to highlight where the average consumer's freedom of choice could be impaired), what is meant by the 'average consumer' - what small print they should be expected to understand and how a consumer’s behaviour is influenced by the information an agent provides. The updated Glossary also has updateddefinitions for ‘harassment’, ‘material information’ and ‘transactional decision’.

• TSI logo: The updated Sales Code’s front page also includes the Consumer Code Approval Scheme logo to highlight the Code’s approval by the Trading Standards Institute (TSI), which replaced the replaced the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) scheme last year.*

Lettings agents: Amendments to the Lettings Code of Practice:
• To view the updated Lettings Code please click here.
• All the Code changes are highlighted in the ‘Summary of Code changes’ (for lettings) - please click here to view.
• Key changes: several important amendments and new sections have been included in this edition concerning a wide range of topics, such as:

- (Section 1e) General Obligations: A new form of words has been included so all agents understand their legal obligation to provide equal treatment of landlords and tenants, regardless of their race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation.

- (Section 2) Duty of Care and Conflicts of Interest: This new section highlights the steps agents must take to avoid a potential conflict of interest.
- (Section 5f) Instructions and Terms of Business: The extension of contract cancellation periods from the current 7 calendar days to 14 calendar days, in accordance with The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, which come into force on 13 June. (Further information and guidance can be found by clicking here).
- (Section 5j) Fair Contracts: The updated Code makes specific reference to renewal fees and the agent’s responsibility to communicate the liability to the landlord.
- (Section 5n) Fees and Charges: This amendment highlights how agents must not charge the same service to more than one party in the same transaction.
- (Section 6) Lettings Boards: This section has been expanded to include more detail and to cover topics such as multiple occupation properties and the importance of agents adhering to local legislation.
- (Section 7) Published Material and Information about a Property: This section emphasises the compliance requirements of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and also highlights disclosing non-optional fees as per the Committee of Advertising Practice guidelines.
- (Section 22) Glossary of Terms: This section includes several new additions and updates to clearly define terms such as ’aggressive behaviour’, 'average consumer', ‘harassment’, ‘material information’ and ‘transactional decision’.

Please use the information above and supporting documentation to brief your teams so everyone can continue to use the Codes to demonstrate their commitment to treat consumers with fairness and integrity at all times.

* Please note: TPO’s TSI approval only applies to the Sales Code at present and restrictions apply to the usage of TSI logo(s). Agents can no longer display the OFT logo under any circumstances - any breaches of this would be considered misleading to consumers and a potential criminal offence.


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