Latest News

Festive news, a New Year's Resolution not to miss & a fond farewell from the Chairman

Season's greetings! We hope you’ve received our Christmas card & window sticker to ensure all agents are compliant with the new ADR Regulations. This festive edition gives members more information on the regulations, including a special checklist & some best practice to adopt in your branch. 

There’s also a farewell message from Bill McClintock, who leaves his role as Chairman in the New Year.

On behalf of everyone at TPO, I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Best wishes, Gerry Fitzjohn, TPO Vice Chairman


Gerry Fitzjohn shares his New Year’s resolution…

The imminent arrival of a New Year often brings with it an opportunity for us all to reflect and commit to a series of New Year Resolutions.

As I prepare to take on my new role as Chairman of the Board in 2016, my top priority is making sure every TPO agent meets their new legal obligation to display their redress membership.

You should by now have received a special Christmas card with a TPO window sticker to prominently display in your office but please make sure you read our new ADR Member Checklist to understand all the requirements in more detail.

How many of you will make adhering to the new ADR Regulations a New Year’s Resolution?

Trading Standards are cracking down on agent failures and we’ve highlighted a number of recent cases where fines have been imposed along with some best practice to help agents – read more here.

Your Christmas card also includes a fond farewell from Bill McClintock who leaves TPO after 13 years of service – I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Chairman for his dedicated service and passion for reforming and improving the industry. He will be sorely missed but shows no signs of slowing down in his final note to members - click here to read his message in full.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Gerry Fitzjohn
Vice Chairman, TPO Board

Reduce your risk & raise your standards by displaying your TPO logo

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.

Member checklist:
• 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 (
• 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.

Yours sincerely

Gerry Fitzjohn
TPO Vice Chairman

Useful links:
Agents fined after not signing up to redress scheme
Letting agents facing action over failure to sign up to redress scheme
Trading Standards check 202 agencies' redress memberships
Council's new powers to fine agents flouting redress schemes

A fond farewell from TPO’s Chairman

As I come to the end of my time as Board Chairman at The Property Ombudsman (TPO) I would like to thank all the staff, the Board Members and the Council for all the support they have given me over the last 13 years.

During that time there have been many changes in the agency world with the introduction of a significant amount of legislation and regulation. In recent years much of the attention has been focused on the residential lettings industry and the private rented sector.

It seems to me there is now a disconnect in the agency rules applying to sales as opposed to lettings and management, with differing approaches in each of Scotland, Wales and England. In addition, some local authorities have their own rules about registering residential landlords and letting agents.

As I take my leave I believe it is time to bring these disparate areas together with new legislation rather than continue to hang things on the Estate Agents Act 1979, which is now significantly out of date and was enacted before the electronic age. This will take some time but the industry should begin to plan for it and bring forward sensible proposals to be put to the next Parliament.

In recent years we have seen residential sales agents manage problems and complaints in a more effective way, which has been evidenced by the reduction in the average awards made by the property ombudsman scheme. I have been impressed with the way the industry has improved its consumer relations and made significant strides in training its staff.

Lettings is a rather different story, as it has a much longer relationship with landlords and tenants and can be a great deal more complicated to manage than a single sale. However, staff training and awareness is improving and I hope that the Property Ombudsman scheme can claim that it is helping by using its 25 years’ experience to produce new Codes, guidance and best practice.

There is plenty for my successor, Gerry Fitzjohn and the Ombudsman Katrine Sporle to undertake.

I am of course indebted to Lord Best, Chairman of the Council, for all the guidance he and his team has given me over the years, and for enabling the scheme to maintain such a strong sense of independence and impartiality.

Although I shall leave TPO in capable hands to go forward, I hope that I shall not lose touch with the industry for a while to come.

Bill McClintock