From 1 October 2014 all letting agents must be a member of a redress scheme.
This enables tenants and landlords to complain about their letting agent to an independent regulatory body if they have a grievance.
The complainant must first liaise with the letting agent and only when no progress is possible or deadlock is reached should the complainant take the matter to the redress Scheme for an independent review of the facts followed by a decision and recommendations.
Redress Schemes are administered by: Anglesey County council and include TPO ( The Property Ombudsman), OS:P (Ombudsman Services: Property), RICS Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
In addition there are other regularity bodies: ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents), NALS (National
Approved Letting scheme), UKALA (The UK Association of Letting Agents), RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).
Agent members of such bodies must meet strict criteria, with minimum codes of practice, accounting and transparency.
Members of NAEA and ARLA must also be members of TPO
Members of UKALA and RICS must also be members of OS:P
OFT was originally responsible for redress schemes (TPO and OS:P) but their duties were taken over by other agencies on 13 June 2014 (I think). Although the OFT no longer exists the obligations formerly enforced by the OFT continue and indeed are now more strict under newer CPRs.
Estate agency conduct is now governed by Powys C.C. which deals with enforcing the The Estate Agent’s Act 1979 (EAA ’79).
Where a dispute arises with local Trading Standards Officers (TSOs), Warwickshire Trading Standards has a ‘Primary Authority Status’ whereby members of certain redress schemes (ARLA and NAEA) can rely on ‘Warwickshire’ for a definitive response.
Redress Schemes are governed by Anglesey CC.
Some disputes arise through misconception.
E.g. There is no legal duty for a seller to honour acceptance of any offer to buy property until exchange of contracts – hence the freedom to galumph and gander.
There is a duty for the agent to act in the best interests of its client seller to achieve the best price together with a duty of care to it’s customer buyer.
Disappointment often causes ill feeling and claims of ‘unfair’!