TPO Scotland established with sales and lettings Codes of Practice
The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme has unveiled two new versions of its Code of Practice for sales and lettings agents operating in Scotland as it officially marked the launch of TPO Scotland.
Individuals from leading industry associations, agents and local journalists joined the Scottish Board and the Ombudsman Christopher Hamer for a celebration at the offices of Braemore Lettings in Edinburgh.
Christopher Hamer, who is standing down as the Property Ombudsman at the end of November 2015, said: “TPO Scotland is an independent scheme and has been launched to ensure industry best practice through its new and approved Codes of Practice. Members of TPO Scotland must adhere to the Codes, while their customers have access to a robust dispute resolution process if things go wrong.
“Although membership for letting agents is currently voluntary, although a significant number of agents in the country are already registered with the scheme, there are major benefits that come from being associated with TPO Scotland which represents a mark of quality and reassurance for buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords.
“Our aim is to help agents develop their staff in industry standards to come in line with current laws. The property industry is continuously changing and the Private Rented Sector in particular is growing at a rapid pace.
“There is a drive to set standards in progress through the Scottish Government with a consultation recently launched which will see a major overhaul of legislation in the Private Rented Sector. The industry itself sees the value of regulation and both our Codes have been created to go hand in hand with recent improvements and the changing nature of the Private Rented Sector.”
The new Codes, which came into force on 1st March 2015, are unique to TPO and were written with input from the industry with representatives of the Scottish Government, Shelter, the National Association of Estate Agents, Association of Residential Letting Agents and several property agents.
Christopher added: “The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme has been operating throughout the UK for 25 years and its Codes of Practice have received Consumer Code Approval from The Trading Standards Institute (TSI). The new TPO Scottish Sales and Lettings codes have also received independent accreditation from TSI emphasising that the Codes set a standard for consumer protection.
“Our Codes are comprehensive and cover all aspects of the latest property and consumer laws, and we therefore urge consumers to use a TPO registered agent in order to safeguard themselves as much as possible. More than 500 estate agencies and lettings firms are TPO Scotland accredited and I would encourage tenants, landlords and property owners to seek out these agencies.”
Malcolm Cannon, CEO of Braemore lettings agency and a board member of TPO Scotland, said: “Braemore has, for some time, been lobbying and publicly supporting the raising of standards in the lettings industry and as members of TPO Scotland we are already bound by the regulations and redress process. In addition to the standards expected of all those agencies covered by TPO Scotland, Braemore is encouraging even greater regulation in the sector looking, in particular, at deposits, client accounts and training.
“It is imperative that good lettings businesses, providing high quality and reliable customer service, are not damaged by the rogue agents and non-compliant landlords acting at the edges of acceptable practice and it is equally important that members of the public are made aware of what standards they can expect.”
Brian Moran, area lettings director in Scotland for Your Move, added: “Your Move is enthusiastic about supporting TPO Scotland which will provide an independent facility for consumers in Scotland to resolve any disputes with agents. The Code of Practice is now fully reflective of the different approach from the rest of the UK to property transactions in the country.”
TPO’s new Sales and Lettings Codes for Scotland are now available to view on TPO’s website.