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TPO June Newsletter 

Following a challenging few months in which every organisation closed their doors to ensure the welfare of their employees, it would appear businesses are slowly re-opening and adapting to the new 'normal'.

At TPO, we have been working hard to ensure our service remains accessible to agents and consumers during this difficult time and we will continue to respond to any future issues which may arise as a result of Covid-19.

In case you have missed any important announcements, here is a re-cap on those you may have missed and changes which may impact your business:- 

Emerging Issues

Electrical Safety Standards

Under the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, landlords are now required to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent, at least every 5 years. Landlords have to provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants, and to their local authority if requested.

The Regulations apply to new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.

There are some exceptions which are set out in Schedule 1 of the Regulations and include social housing, lodgers, those on a long lease of 7 years or more, student halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes, hospitals and hospices, and other accommodation relating to healthcare provisions.

Guidance from the Government for landlords and tenants is available HERE and a link has also been added to the suite of guidance for TPO members HERE.

Agents have a responsibility to ensure that the properties they market and let are safe and compliant. The TPO Code for Residential Lettings, paragraph 4f, explains this should be done by providing the landlord with advice about their responsibilities and checking that the necessary certificates are in place.

Agents also need to be aware that a copy of the electrical safety report should be supplied to the current tenant within 28 days of the inspection and test, to a new tenant before they occupy the premises, and to any prospective tenant within 28 days of receiving a request for the report. In addition, if a local authority requests it, the report must be provided within 7 days of receiving the request. It is therefore recommended that agents keep a copy of the report on file to enable them to provide this on behalf of the landlord when the need arises.

Tenant Fee Act 2019 – 2020 Changes

From 1 June 2020 the ban on tenant fees was extended to existing tenancies that fall within the scope of the Tenant Fees Act. This includes assured shorthold tenancies, tenancies of student accommodation and licences to occupy (subject to some exclusions).

Landlords and agents in England cannot charge any fees on existing or new tenancies other than the permitted payments as set out in the Tenant Fees Act, which have been summarised in paragraph 12a of the TPO Code for Residential Lettings.

Video/Virtual Viewings – Assured Advice

One of the many impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the increasing use of technology to perform tasks that would have previously been carried out in person. Property viewings conducted via video and pre-recorded viewings are two important ways agents have helped to bring buyers and sellers together, and this is a service that looks set to continue.

TPO received a number of queries relating to consumer and agent protection on the issue, with agents asking how to advise their sellers and buyers raising concerns about potential omissions. To assist TPO has obtained Primary Authority Assured Advice designed to help agents deal with video viewings in a compliant way. The advice can be relied upon by TPO member agents and is recognised by all local Trading Standards agencies in the UK.

TPO Annual Report 2019

20% rise in complaints to The Property Ombudsman in 2019 and £2.20 million returned to consumers in compensatory awards

30,365 enquiries (up just 4% on 2018)
*5,106 became formal complaints (up 20% on 2018)*£2.20 million in awards*Agents settled 98% of awards made*Just 22 agents were expelled from TPO for non-compliance
The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has released its 2019 annual report reflecting continued demand from consumers for dispute resolution services.

The report reveals TPO received 30,356 enquiries in 2019, up only 4% on 2018. Of these, 5,106 went on to be formal complaints, a rise of 20%. Despite a significant increase in complaints, compensatory awards paid by agents to consumers only rose by 1.4% to a total of £2.20 million. This is an effective barometer for the sector that progress is being made with agents complying with the TPO Codes of Practice.

The Property Ombudsman dealt with 2,518 complaints relating to lettings, 1,669 relating to sales and 780 for residential leasehold management. The biggest awards were £17,644, £20,200 and £21,439 respectively, and the average awards were £635, £742 and £273 respectively.

Management was the top cause of lettings complaints last year, but communication and record keeping remained as the top cause of sales complaints. The manner in which agents dealt with complaints was again in the top three causes of complaints for lettings, sales and residential leasehold management.

The report also includes eight example case summaries of complaints received by TPO along with the outcome, as well as statistics relating to the minority of cases (0.1%) where agents were referred to TPO’s Compliance Committee for possible expulsion from the scheme for non-compliance. 98% of agents paid the Ombudsman’s award to the complainant and only 22 agents were expelled from the scheme.

Lettings statistical highlights:

• 67% of complaints were supported by the Ombudsman
• 50% of complaints were made by landlords, while 48% were made by tenants (2% received by other)
• The average lettings award was £635
• The top causes of complaints were: (1) management, (2) communication and record keeping (3) complaints handling (4) tenancy agreements, inventories and deposits

Sales statistical highlights:

• 63% of complaints were supported by the Ombudsman
• 67% of complaints were made by sellers, while 29% were made by buyers (4% received by other)
• The average sales award was £742
• The top causes of complaints were: (1) communication & record keeping, (2) complaints handling (3) marketing & advertising, (4) instructions/terms of business/commission/termination

Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman, said:

2019 was another busy year for TPO. Complaints ascended year on year again and we also saw the complexities of cases increase, particularly in the residential leasehold management field.

As always, I’m proud that the team rose to the challenge of rising complaint numbers. Our Customer Services team responded to a record number of people, over 30,000 initial enquiries raised, with nearly 10,000 of those received through our 24/7 online chat service, a 7% increase on 2018. Just over 25,000 enquiries that did not go on to become formal complaints saw TPO effectively assist consumers in other ways, whether that be signposting them to the correct place or person or giving advice and guidance to promote a local resolution between them and the agent.

In order to further enhance consumer experience, TPO has translated its work in the initial enquiry stage into a self-diagnostic tool. Still in its piloting phase, we hope to promote the online tool this year.

Overall, 2019 represented a year of growth and improvement. 2020 has already brought a huge challenge with the outbreak of Covid-19. TPO acknowledges that the current situation is an extremely difficult one, for agents and consumers alike. TPO is here to help as best it can and is operating a full service. Consumers can still make a complaint at this time and the property industry can access information, guides and advice via our website.”

Case Summaries

TPO has over 28 years’ experience advising consumers who contact the scheme when they have exhausted an organisation’s internal complaint’s process but want an alternative to avoid the expense and time taken by going to court. The annual report provides some example case summaries which represent daily life, rather than the more extreme but unusual cases.
The full annual report is available in PDF [HERE] and all case summaries are available on the TPO website.

Direct Debit Sign Up

Direct Debit Payment of your fee to The Property Ombudsman

Following information regarding the fee review sent at the end of last year, we wanted to remind you that we are in the process of sending out invitations to sign up for direct debit in advance of membership renewal as the method to pay and renew your membership with The Property Ombudsman (TPO). Paying by direct debit will provide seamless fulfilment of an agent’s legal obligation to belong to a redress scheme and is the most cost-effective method for TPO to collect payment.

Given this challenging time, we wanted to make you aware of the guidance on redress requirement to help you decide if membership is required and have enclosed the following link to our website, which details mandatory redress requirements. This advice has been provided to us from National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT).

Specifically in relation to business closures and, or suspensions:

  1. If a business stops trading – i.e. winds up a company or closes the business they will no longer need to be a members of a redress scheme.
  2. If a business suspends operations, but has customers on its books (i.e. instructed sales, tenants/buyers looking for properties), or is marketing properties (on its website, or on portals), or is collecting rent from tenants, or managing a property on behalf of a landlord, then they will need to maintain their membership of a redress scheme.

Redress schemes are required to report all instances of failure to renew redress membership by an agent to NTSELAT in a timely manner who have indicated they are actively pursuing non-compliance.

If TPO can be of any assistance in regards to your membership renewal, particularly around any difficulties to pay we urge you please to contact the finance team on 01722 335458, option 2 or by emailing You can contact the membership team for any general enquiries by emailing and calling the above number and option 1.

Thank you for your continued membership of The Property Ombudsman.

Kind Regards

The Membership Team at The Property Ombudsman

Conference Webinar - 18th June 

This week (18th June, 10.00am-11.15am) , Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman and Jane Erskine, Deputy Ombudsman will present a slimmed down version of TPO’s national conference in an interactive Conference Webinar. 

To register and take part 


If you are not a member of Rightmove but would like to join the webinar, please send an email to stating 'add me to the conference' in the subject box and we will send you a link enabling you to register. 

The session will comprise of three sections:

Looking back

Katrine will take a look back over her last five years as Ombudsman, picking out the issues that have impacted on the sector and looking to what the future may hold
'Be the Ombudsman' Online workshop 

Jane and Katrine will conduct an interactive workshop, with real life case examples from sales, lettings and leasehold management

Meet the new Ombudsman

With Katrine’s term as Ombudsman coming to an end in October, the webinar will conclude with an exclusive message from the new Ombudsman, who will be introduced by the TPO Chair of the Board, Baroness Warwick.

We hope you will join us for what will be a thought provoking and popular webinar.