As of tomorrow, it looks as though scores of estate and letting agents could be trading illegally.
Tomorrow, August 7, is when Ombudsman Services: Property withdraws from the sector, no longer offering redress for consumers – a mandatory requirement for agents wanting to stay in business.
Agents, including RICS members, had been warned that they must register with another authorised scheme, either The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme.
A list of agents who may not have registered elsewhere is due to be sent to the regulator, NTSEAT, by Ombudsman Services.
However yesterday evening, Ombudsman Services: Property was still listing what looked like a large number of agents.
Whether that was because these agents have not moved to a new redress scheme, or have but the Ombudsman Services website had not been updated, is not clear.
Two weeks ago, we reported that some 450 agents had still to make a move.
This morning, Ombudsman Services: Property said that any company still signed up to it would need to switch.
Nicolette Granite, an ombudsman at Ombudsman Services, said: “Today marks the culmination of a six-month managed withdrawal process, a key part of which has been informing property and housing companies registered with OS of our decision to withdraw from the sector.
“We have contacted participating companies on numerous occasions as part of a comprehensive communications and awareness campaign. We’re pleased to report that, as a result, many have taken the important step of signing up with a different scheme in what has been a smooth transition.
“It’s possible that a small number of companies may have missed the deadline. If your company falls into this category, our advice would be to register as soon as possible with either The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme.”
She added: “During the past six months we have worked closely with stakeholders including the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team. This collaboration will continue after today.
“Consumers can be assured that, if their complaint falls within our terms of reference and was accepted by us on or before August 6, it will be investigated through to resolution.”