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September edition

Welcome to the September edition of TPO's member newsletter which features an important reminder about the legal requirement for letting agents to display their fees, links to TPO's updated Codes of Practice which will be enforced from 1st October 2016 and an overview of the speakers and agent workshops at next month's TPO Conference.  

Agents risk £5,000 fine for not displaying fees


The Property Ombudsman met with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) this month to discuss a range of issues including the need for letting agents to display their fees.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 requires letting and managing agents in England and Wales to display a complete list of fees, charges or penalties (however expressed) payable by landlords and tenants for any letting agency or property management service, along with details of any client money protection scheme membership, at the earliest stage in the transaction.

TPO’s Code of Practice also states that ‘This information must be displayed on your website and prominently at all premises where you deal face-to-face with tenants and landlords.’

Trading Standards Officers across the country have powers to enforce fines upon firms that fail to meet the legal requirement. Any agent found to be in breach of the law risks a fine of up to &5,000.

Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman, said: “The law is quite clear in that agents must disclose their fees – including VAT - so consumers can make an informed decision about what letting agent to use. Failure to do so is illegal and we will continue to work closely with CTSI, industry bodies and local authorities to raise awareness.”

Further information
The Business Companion website has a useful guide for letting agents, which explains more about the requirement to display fees:


Updated Codes of Practice reflect the latest industry developments

TPO has updated its Codes of Practice to reflect the latest legislative developments and new best practice, which are now available to view and download on the scheme's website. The updated Codes include some significant changes that address emerging industry issues, such the manipulation of internet portals, also known as 'portal juggling’.

The practice known as ‘portal juggling’ accuses agents of misleading consumers by removing and re-listing homes on property portals, enabling them to hide price cuts and give the impression a property is new to the market when it is not.

Other revisions to the Codes include:
• Disclosure on pre-contract deposits – to clearly define the actions required to ensure all parties involved in a pre-contract deposit arrangement have agreed to the terms and conditions attached to the payment.
• VAT on fees – to ensure all fees and charges are quoted inclusive of VAT.
• Disclosure of referencing – adding the provision that landlords receive all relevant facts, regardless of whether the tenant has met or failed to meet the referencing criteria.

In a press release issued to the media today, Gerry Fitzjohn, Chairman of the TPO Board, comments: “The decision was taken to carry out a full review of the Codes to reflect market developments and provide clear definitions of unfair practices. Our Codes already state that all advertisements must be legal, decent, honest and truthful, but now go one step further to clarify that ‘portal juggling’, in its various forms, is misleading to consumers. Evidence of member agents found to be carrying out such poor practice could be reported to the Disciplinary and Standard’s Committee (DSC), NTSEAT and/or local Trading Standards. As the industry changes, it’s necessary to release new versions of our Codes to ensure agents fully understand their responsibilities and adhere to best practice.”

The updated Codes come into force on 1st October 2016

Please share this news with your colleagues to ensure everyone is familiar with the latest versions of the Codes.

The Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle, will apply the new Codes of Practice when reviewing consumer complaints about events that have occurred after 1st October 2016 to determine whether or not a TPO registered member has breached the high level of standards required.

The working group for the revised Codes involved trade associations, representatives from large and smaller agents in both sales and lettings and a representative from TPO’s independent Council.

All TPO Codes of Practice have been revised including: Residential Estate Agents, Residential Letting Agents, Residential Estate Agents (Scotland), Residential Letting Agents (Scotland), Buying Agents, Property Buying Companies, Commercial and Membership Obligations.

View the updated Codes of Practice:

Want to find out more?

Issues detailed in the new Codes will be covered in greater depth at TPO’s annual Conference ‘Raising Standards’ on 12th October at the National Conference Centre in Solihull. Discounted tickets are available for returning delegates and TPO member agents via:




Don’t miss out! Have you signed up?

Wednesday 12 October 2016
National Conference Centre, Solihull*

Programme highlights:
• New speakers
• Sales & Lettings workshops
• Exhibition
• Live debate: New Panel of Experts


TPO’s exceptional line up for this year’s national Conference is not to be missed with new speakers, a live housing debate from an Expert Panel and extended workshops for sales & lettings agents. Following the success of last year's event, we're delighted to offer returning delegates and TPO member agents reduced ticket prices via the Conference website:

Don’t miss out! Book your tickets now!

Your Expert Panel

This year’s event will also feature a new Expert Panel for a live discussion on the main stage. Facilitated by Tim Wakelin, the panel will comprise of Kate Faulkner (Property Expert), Mark Hayward (Managing Director, National Association of Estate Agents), Leon Livermore (Chief Executive, Chartered Trading Standards Institute), James Munro (Team Leader, National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team), Eric Walker (Managing Director, Northwood) and BBC R4 presenter Winifred Robinson. 

Distinctive marketing 

We’re also delighted to announce that Tony Anderson will be delivering a talk on ‘Distinctive Marketing’ for delegates. Tony’s resume includes global brands such as British Airways, Thomas Cook and easyJet, where he worked closely with founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou to launch and build a firm which has become a major force in European aviation. A world-class marketing expert, guest lecturer and BBC commentator, this session will cover new ground for agent’s to use in the workplace.

Agent workshops:

This year’s event includes extended workshop sessions for sales and letting agents, featuring a series of real-life consumer complaints reviewed by the Ombudsman.

The sessions will be led by Katrine Sporle, Ombudsman and Jane Erskine, Casework Director, with a team of Senior Case Officers who adjudicate cases available to offer their time and experience to delegates looking for advice on a range of issues.

Delegates will also receive a new toolkit developed especially for this year’s event, which includes:
• Copies of all the consumer case summaries referred to in the workshop
• TPO’s Guidance notes for sales & lettings agents
• Assured Advice from Trading Standards on a range of issues
• The latest CPR guidance and Codes of Practice

Did you know? You can claim 4 hours CPD by attending the Conference to enhance your professional development

View the Conference programme in full:

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*Previously known as the National Motorcycle Museum