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Agents' fees: Ombudsman and Trading Standards in new initiative

The Property Ombudsman scheme and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute have joined forces to tackle lettings agents that are breaking the law by not displaying their fees. 

The joint campaign will initially target agents operating in Swansea and Dorset, who will be required to provide TPO with photographic evidence to demonstrate they are complying with the law by displaying their fees in both the branch and on their company website.

Any agent that fails to submit evidence will be referred to Trading Standards for further investigation. 

The campaign - originally announced at this month’s TPO’s conference - involves Trading Standards Officers with powers to impose fines of up to £5,000 on any letting agent that fails to display its fees.

More than 85 per cent of all UK letting agents are signed up with TPO and following the industry’s only CTSI-approved Lettings Code of Practice, which clearly states that agents must display their fees in accordance with the 2015 Consumer Rights Act. 

The CTSI represents Trading Standards professionals across the UK, and runs the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme, which has approved TPO’s Sales and Lettings Codes of Practice.

“Agents signed up with The Property Ombudsman scheme have shown that they are willing to commit to the highest levels of consumer protection by following the scheme’s CTSI-approved Code of Practice. We fully support TPO’s efforts to improve industry compliance and any agent that has failed to display their fees up until now must act. We are aware of Trading Standards Officers taking serious action against those that fail to comply" says Adrian Simpson, CTSI business education and consumer codes expert.

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    Check the property management / Lease Management companies, some of them
    use Obudsman's logo but they are not members; and they did not follow Trading Standards. Please advise where we should make a report / complaint to if the lease
    management companies did not follow the rules. Pay attention in Cheltenham!

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    Wouldn't you report them to the Ombudsman?

     
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    And another thing! How many agents have actually studied the new TPO amendments to the Code of Practice and incorporated them into their Terms of Business from 1st October. Er........................yes, you in the corner wake up!

    Looks like there is plenty of money to be earned in Swansea and Dorset anytime soon by Trading Standards.

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    I know this has been articulated many times, but this really ought to be challenged by an agent. In my view, letting a property is, on the whole, a business operation: you provide a service in return for income. Yes, sometimes there are those who are perhaps "forced" into the situation of having to let their home, but generally, it's a "business" decision. Why, therefore are those making such a decision, treated as "consumers". They are no more "consumers" than those who set up stalls in farmers markets selling home made jam. If anything, those SELLING are more often than not, genuine "consumers" (unless you are a developer, you're not selling your home as a "business" venture) and yet there is no chance of selling agents being forced to display their fees "in branch" or online. Why is this? Can anyone shed any light on this anomaly?

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    And even if there were 'sneaky' fees the customer who liked the look of a particular property didn't know about until they started the application process...so what? "Oh, it's more expense than I initially thought. That's disappointing." Disappointing, but not the end of the world. You move on. Nobody is forcing you to pay more than you want/can afford.

    When I was buying my own house, I had my heart set on a particular place, only to be outbid by someone else. I saw an advert for a brand new BMW, it was £20,930! Wow, I thought...a brand new BMW for £20k...I'll take one. No wait...that's FROM £20,930. If you actually want a choice of colour or a radio or anything other than an empty shell of a cabin, four wheels and a lawnmower engine it will in reality cost you vastly more -£42,710 fully specced!! It sucks. But that's life. Deal with what it throws your way.

    So it seems all of this just to prevent hurting the feelings of someone who thought they'd found their perfect home, only to find out it will cost more than they thought the very first time they saw it in the agent's window/website. I could understand if there were charges once you'd signed the tenancy and moved in, but that's not what this is about.

    Perhaps we should insist all party-popper manufacturers use a real pound coin to contain the contents -that way I won't be disappointed to find it's just a circular piece of cardboard when I spot one, thinking I've struck gold, on the floor of a darkened room...

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