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The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015

The ADR Regulations are derived from one of the European Directives which aims to promote consumer confidence in domestic and cross-border markets. The ADR Regulations apply to all business sectors in the UK.

The aim of the ADR Regulations is to provide consumers with access to quality, independent and approved ADR schemes where the trader has been unable to resolve the complaint directly with the consumer. For many sectors (such as the retail sector) this presents a significant change. However, where a sector is already subject to regulation relating to redress arrangements (such as estate, letting and management agents) the changes will be minimal.

TPO is pleased to announce that following a thorough audit of our governance arrangements and complaint processes, the Chartered Trading Standard Institute (CTSI) and the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team (NTSEAT) have appointed TPO as an ‘approved ADR Scheme’ under the ADR Regulations.

This approval is in addition to CTSI’s accreditation of TPO’s Codes of Practice under their Consumer Codes Approval Scheme and TPO’s accreditation by the NTSEAT and the Department for Communities and Local Government, as an approved Estate Agent and Letting and Management Agent Redress Scheme.

To gain this approval, we were required to demonstrate that we held the necessary experience to deal with property disputes, that our governance structure provided the framework for independent ADR resolutions to be made and that those making the decisions did not possess any conflict of interest or were employed or directly remunerated by a party subject to the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.

As a result of TPO’s approval the Ombudsman’s Terms of Reference and TPO’s Codes of Practice will be amended as follows:

The Ombudsman’s Terms of Reference
The ADR Regulations require that the Ombudsman’s new Terms of Reference allow a complainant 12 months from the date of an agent’s final viewpoint letter to refer the matter to TPO. This change came into effect on 20 July 2015.

Codes of Practice
From 1 October 2015, TPO agents will be required under the ADR Regulations to advise complainants of their TPO membership, TPO’s contact details and the 12 month timescale for referral to TPO. TPO’s Codes are currently being updated to reflect the ADR Regulations along with the requirements of other legislation such as the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The new Codes will become effective on 1 October 2015 and confirmation of the changes will be circulated ahead of that time.

There will also be further opportunity to discuss the new Codes during TPO’s first ever Conference on 14 October 2015.

I trust you will agree that this further accreditation underlines the fact that your membership of TPO and adoption of TPO’s Codes shows your commitment to the highest standards of consumer service within the property sector.