Christopher Hamer, the property ombudsman, wanted the new codes to put an emphasis on clarity when dealing with consumers.
He said: “The vast majority of complaints I receive are customers misunderstanding the terms of their agreement, as a result of miscommunication down the line from agents. Ultimately, these guidelines are designed to make sure the consumer understands what services they are being provided with and how much they are being charged.
”The codes have been prepared for some time but the delay in the announcement was because formal approval for the revisions has been awaited from the Office of Fair Trading. Unfortunately, this has not come so the Ombudsman has decided to press ahead without further delay and implement the codes.The new codes are being issued along with guidance notes that were first given to members last October to assist in understanding what is required of them following the changes, many of which reflect developments in legislation. The three sets of supplementary guidance refer to “touting” for business, an area which has been drawing some complaints about the behaviour of rival agents, as well as the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and the drawing up of agency agreements.
The new Codes of Practice and the guidance notes can be viewed and downloaded from the TPO website members’ section.