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TPO Member News - March 2018

Welcome to the TPO Member Newsletter. In this issue, find out who will be speaking at this year's conference, see the conference programme, learn about our new CPR training module exclusively for TPO members and read about the latest scams targeting agents and homeowners...

<strong>New Online CPR Training Module Exclusively for TPO Members </strong>

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has launched a new online training module exclusively for TPO members.

In the first of its kind, this on-line interactive training module provides training to the desk of front-line agency staff to help them understand the requirements of TPO’s Codes of Practice and to ensure compliance with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs).


The course, which is accredited by The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), includes real life case studies and covers lettings and leasehold, as well as property sales. Completion of the course will earn the learner CPD points and provides a good foundation to progress to the higher-level courses offered by professional bodies such as Propertymark and the RICS.


Property Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle, said: “In the many masterclasses and conferences that Deputy Ombudsman Jane Erskine and I carry out up and down the country, we find too many agents who still do not understand that disclosure is everything. This is reflected in the significant number of complaints referred to TPO which concern information that should have been disclosed under the CPRs. Agents can no longer pick and choose what they will tell prospective tenants or buyers and this course will make sure that front line staff understand the TPO Codes and apply the CPRs correctly.


"Picking up on the top issues referred to TPO, we are already working on a second module covering communication, complaints handling and reputation.”


Commenting on the launch of the training module, Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark added:Any initiative that encourages transparency in adhering to our mutual codes and current legislation benefits not only the agent, but more importantly, the consumer.”


The new online CPR training module can be purchased through the TPO website for &42 (inclusive of VAT)

TPO Conference - Former Housing Minister, Mark Prisk, Announced as Key Note Speaker

Thank you to everyone who has already purchased tickets for TPO’s conference ‘Raising Standards’, which will be held at The National Conference Centre in Solihull on 13th June 2018. If you haven’t already purchased your tickets but would like to, Click Here.

We can now reveal that Mark Prisk, former Housing Minister and local government minister, will be our key note speaker.

As a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and former Minister of State Housing, Mark is a regular commentator on housing, planning and property matters. He is currently engaged in the scrutiny of Government policy, including the draft Tenant Fees Bill – a much debated subject matter currently within the sector.

In addition, Declan Curry (journalist, speaker and presenter), best-known for his role as a Business Correspondent for BBC Breakfast, has joined our conference line up. As well as speaking about business prospects for 2018 and the outlook for 2019, Declan will also be facilitating this year’s event.

Alongside Mark and Declan, James Walker, Founder of Resolver and column writer for a number of national newspapers, will also take to the stage to provide guidance and commentary on consumer issues. Other presenters include; Ryan Hampson from Brief Your Market who will be talking about GDPR and Rob Symes from Rightmove.

TPO’s interactive sales and lettings workshops are also back this year providing delegates with real-life case examples of consumer complaints, led by Ombudsman Katrine Sporle and Deputy Ombudsman Jane Erskine.

The 2018 Conference programme is now available to download here.

To book a place at the 2018 TPO Conference, visit TPO’s ticket website.

<strong>Business as usual following OS:P withdrawal from property sector</strong>

Following an announcement on 6th February by Ombudsman Services (OS:P) that it is to withdraw as a redress scheme from the property sector, The Property Ombudsman (TPO) would like to reassure its member agents that it remains open for business. 


In addition, having already received a high volume of enquiries relating to the changes, TPO is working collaboratively with other leading industry bodies to provide guidance for those managing agents, estate agents and letting agents needing to transfer from OS:P to another redress scheme by 6th August 2018.


TPO is the largest of the three government-approved redress schemes, providing a free and impartial dispute resolution service to consumers and property agents for more than 27 years.  It is a totally independent, not-for-profit organisation, the only redress scheme to operate Codes of Practice (adopted by Propertymark) to raise standards and share best practice in the industry, and now, the only remaining Ombudsman service in property. 


TPO has the experience and capacity to receive new members into its scheme and to provide a seamless transition for any agents wishing to join.


RICS is currently reviewing redress options going forward on the provision of surveying activities in particular, as detailed in a statement issued by Jonathan Gorvin, Head of Regulatory Policy and Development for RICS.



<strong>Organised crime unit issue conveyancing fraud advice</strong>

TITAN, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, are urging estate agents, solicitors and home buyers across the region to be alert after a number of scams which have left solicitors and clients suffering significant financial losses.
Conveyancing Fraud is committed by criminals who hack into e-mail chains between sellers, buyers, solicitors and their estate agents. They wait for the right time, usually on the day of sale completion, then send a spoof e-mail informing interested parties that funds should now be paid into a different account and provide details of an account under their control.
In one recent incident in the North West a home buyer transferred nearly &200,000 to their conveyancing solicitor. The solicitor then received an e-mail purporting to be from the same individual asking for it to be transferred to a different account. The funds were duly transferred only for the solicitor to learn that this account was under the control of the fraudster.
In order to prevent similar offences, TITAN Regional Cyber Crime Unit are keen to ensure that the following Cyber Protect advice is distributed as widely as possible:
Protection advice
• Ensure all staff, not just finance teams are aware of this fraud.
• Always verify email payment changes to financial agreements with the organisation directly using established contact details you have on file. If called ask the caller to give you a main switchboard number for you to be routed back to them. Alternatively, hang up and call them back using established contact details you have on file.
• Have a system in place which allows staff to properly verify contact from their CEO or senior members of staff; for example having two points of contact so that the staff can check that the instruction which they have received from their CEO is legitimate.
• Always review requests to change ‘one off’ payment requests. Check for inconsistencies or grammatical errors, such as a misspelt company name or a slightly different email address.
• Ensure computer systems are secure and that antivirus software is up to date.
• Review password protocols and ensure those that are used are strong, as long as possible and contain a combination of letters as well as numbers and symbols.
• Do not use the same password for more than one application. If one application is compromised others become immediately vulnerable.
For further advice on cyber security follow @cyberprotectUK

<strong>Agent Warning! Fraudsters are targeting mortgage-free properties</strong>

Fraudsters are targeting mortgage-free properties, with the aim of selling them on and pocketing the proceeds — all from under the nose of the legitimate owner.
A recent trend in property crime is seeing criminals make hundreds of thousands of pounds from houses belonging to other people by claiming to be the owner and successfully transferring the deeds or even selling the building.
If you own a property or land, rent to tenants, act on behalf of a homeowner whether they are in the UK or abroad, or know of a house belonging to an elderly or vulnerable person there are some simple things that you could do to help prevent property fraud.
•   Familiarise yourself with the latest guidance on identification documents and how to check them if you are involved in this type of work.
•   Register your UK property with HM Land Registry and sign-up to its free alert system. More than 50,000 people are signed up to the system, in which you receive email alerts when certain activity occurs on your registered property allowing you to take action such as querying with the Land Registry or reporting.
•   Consider registering the property at an alternative postal address. For example, if you rent the property to tenants use a PO Box or the address at which you live full-time for all correspondence relating to that residence.
Click here for advice on keeping your identity safe and how to check for inconsistencies. To better protect your land and property from fraudster visit the Government website. Sign up to HM Land Registry’s property alert here.
If you suspect you may have been targeted by property fraudsters call the HM Land Registry’s property fraud line on 0300 0067 030 or email Otherwise, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at a crime is in progress call 101. In an emergency dial 999.