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TPO Member News (Ed 1, Jan 2014)

Welcome to very first edition of our new-look monthly e-newsletter for TPO members, which includes the latest industry news and TPO scheme updates. This edition features important information relating to a new audit being carried out on TPO agents by the Trading Standards Institute - a must read for all sales agents. Gerry Fitzjohn, Vice Chairman, TPO Board.

TSI to carry out logo audit on TPO sales agents

Last year marked a special milestone for TPO sales agents after the Trading Standard’s Institute (TSI) approved TPO’s Residential Sales Code of Practice.

TSI’s approval made TPO the largest organisation and the very first property organisation to have a Code of Practice approved by TSI under their Consumer Code Approval Scheme.

This news also meant that all TPO sales agents can:
• Display the TSI Approved Code logo on their website and printed marketing material
• Have their details featured on the Consumer Code Approval Scheme website, which enables consumers to look for TPO sales agents through a dedicated database on

Are you compliant?
However, the TSI approved Code logo is subject to specific conditions so please make yourself familiar with the following guidelines:

TSI Approved Code Brand Guide
TSI Licence Agreement

TSI’s Consumer Code Approval Scheme replaced the OFT scheme and TSI will be carrying out a thorough audit of all TPO sales agents to ensure the correct TSI Approved Code logo is being used. This audit will initially focus on TPO sales agents’ websites so please take note of the following important points:

1. What will the audit involve?

TSI will use TPO’s database of Sales Agents to conduct a thorough audit on all agent’s websites to make sure that they have removed the OFT logo and that the TSI logo is being used correctly, in line with the guidance above.  

2. Key points to remember and adhere to:

• TPO’s Residential Sales Code of Practice has been approved by the TSI – meaning only sales agents can use the TSI   Approved Code logo.
• With effect from 1st April 2013 the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) stopped operating the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS) – agents can no longer use the OFT logo in any of their marketing.
• The TSI Licence Agreement confirms the terms on which CCAB permits you to use its logo.
• In consideration for the grant of this licence and the payment of membership fees to TPO we permit you to use the logo on the terms outlined in the Licence Agreement. The terms of the licence are binding on you by your use of the logo and CCAB has third party to rights to enforce the licence terms. You do not need to sign and return the licence to CCAB.

We hope you’ll agree that this news enables our sales agents to distinguish themselves as providing the highest level of consumer protection for buyers and sellers, and we are in active discussions with TSI to achieve scheme approval for our Lettings Code of Practice, more of which will share with you in due course.

Find out more: All the TSI guidance documents and further information about TSI can be viewed on the Members’ Area of the TPO website. If you require the logos either for printing or you would like a window sticker for your office, please contact

Did you know? A press release was issued to announce this news in August 2013, which you can view on

Buying Agent Codes comes into force

TPO was proud to launch the UK's first Code of Practice for Buying Agents last year and the Code officially came into force at the beginning of this month (Jan 2014).

To celebrate this news, we hosted a special Buying Agent Q&A on Twitter. The Ombudsman Christopher Hamer hosted the live event through the @TPOmb Twitter account to highlight the Code’s enforcement to the industry and consumers alike.

The new Code is a first for the industry and reflects TPO’s ongoing commitment to recognise new and emerging market sectors.

Many thanks are owed to the TPO members who shared their insight and provided feedback during the drafting of this Code and to all those who joined us Twitter for TPO’s first Live Q&A!

Frequently asked questions:

• What do we mean by ‘buying agent’?

Buying agents are those agents who receive instructions from buyers to act in their interests in the search for property and negotiation of the purchase price.

• Why has TPO launched a separate Code for Buying Agents?

We recognised that buying agents are growing market sector in its own right which required its own Code of Practice.
The new Code will create a uniform set of standards for buying agents based in the UK to protect the interests of consumers and to promote best practice in the industry.

Both sales agents and buying agents are subject to the same property and consumer protection laws, and with that in mind we firmly believe that consumers on both sides of a property transaction deserve the same levels of protection outlined in The Estate Agents Act 1979, and should be able to use a redress service to resolve disputes if they feel they have been treated unfairly.

• Who will it apply to? Buying agents based in the UK.

• How can I get a copy of the Buying Agent Code?

You can view an online version on the Members’ Area of the TPO website by clicking here (There is a box under ‘Member Information’ called ‘Residential Buying Agents’).

Hard copies of the Code are available to order through the normal stationery order process by completing an online order form via: Stationery Order Form.pdf

• Will all existing Buying Agents registered with TPO have to move from following the Sales Code to following the Buying Agent Code?

We recognise that while there are many stand-alone buying agents, there are also a great number of sales agents that provide a buying agent service meaning they might need to follow more than one Code of Practice moving forward.

There is no cost implication for any agent that wishes to register with more than one Code of Practice. The cost of membership will remain the same.

Firms that purely provide a Buying Agent service now have a Code of Practice that is tailored to their area of work, while some members might feel it is best to register with the Sales and Buying Agent Code of Practice.

With that in mind, we urge every firm to review the new Buying Agent Code of Practice so they can make an informed decision as to what Code(s) best reflect their service offering.

• What happens if I’m a Buying Agent that moves from following the Sales Code, to following the Buying Agent Code of Practice?

Your membership terms and fees will remain exactly the same and you can continue to use the TPO logo for marketing purposes as per the existing usage guidance.

However, only agents signed up to the Sales Code of Practice can use the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) logo in their marketing as this is the first TPO Code of Practice to be approved by TSI’s Consumer Code Approval Scheme.

The Scheme was launched in 2013 to replace the Office of Fair Trading scheme and we’re in ongoing discussions with TSI regarding the accreditation of other Codes in the future. Further information and guidance on TPO’s TSI approval and logo usage can be found on the Members' Area of the TPO website via

• When will the Code be implemented? 1st January 2014.

Find out more: The Code is available to view in the Members’ Area of the TPO website and you can view November’s press announcement by clicking here.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Membership team should you require any further information by emailing

Client Money Protection: are you signed up?

Prior to last summer, while thousands of experienced agents already had comprehensive CMP cover through their trade body membership with organisations such as ARLA, NALS, RICS and UKALA, there was no ‘whole of market’ offering. The introduction of new CMP cover launched by PSR Insurance brokers and Hamilton Fraser Insurance Brokers enabled all letting agents to access CMP protection for the first time.

One of the biggest issues facing letting agents that have yet to sign up for CMP cover is their understanding of what level of protection they can offer their landlord clients.

Did you know? While all agents are required to hold client money in a separate Clients Account, there is no current requirement to have those funds insured against unlawful use or fraud, which is why CMP is crucial for landlords and tenants.

The nature of CMP means that it not only protects a tenant’s deposit but it also applies to the collection of rent, giving landlords and tenants maximum protection and peace of mind.

It is estimated that some &23 billion is paid annually in rent, of which &6 - &10 billion is collected by agents on behalf of landlords and newspaper headlines have reported a number of high-profile incidents where landlords and tenants have not been able to recover funds due to them, which were held by agents without CMP cover in place.

All this gives letting agents with CMP cover a massive marketing opportunity to market themselves above and beyond their competitors by offering the highest levels of protection available in the market.

Did you know? TPO surveyed 8,000 lettings branches to assess the viewpoints of member agents registered with the TPO scheme. The results revealed an overwhelming number of agents backed CMP, with 80% already protected.

Find out more: Further information on CMP can be found on the Members’ Area of the TPO website.