Regulator will go after agents who fail to switch from Ombudsman Services to another redress scheme

Agents who are signed up with Ombudsman Services: Property for redress are reminded that they must switch to one of the two other schemes by August 6 – just over a fortnight away.

By EYE’s calculations, it looks as though almost 450 firms still have to make a move.

After this date, the scheme will no longer be providing redress in the property sector.

Agents who have not made the switch by then will leave customers unable to access free alternative dispute resolution services, and will be trading illegally.

It is not officially known how many agents are currently with Ombudsman Services.

However, yesterday EYE counted 171 estate agents on the Ombudsman Services site, and 258 letting agents – a total of 439. Ombudsman Services said it could not confirm the numbers.

After August 6, industry regulator NTSEAT will be provided by Ombudsman Services with a list of agents who have not switched to the other redress schemes and these agents will be targeted for enforcement action.

James Munro, who leads NTSEAT, said: “Agents should not leave it to the last minute to switch – contact either the Property Redress Scheme or The Property Ombudsman to make the arrangements and ensure that you can continue to trade legally after August 6.

“Many estate agents have already switched and any agents who do not switch can expect to be targeted for enforcement action by National Trading Standards.”

A spokesperson for Ombudsman Services told EYE: “Since announcing earlier this year that from August 6 we would be withdrawing from handling complaints in the property sector, we have been working closely with all OS participating property companies to ensure a smooth transition to other dispute resolution schemes.

“We have been in regular and pro-active contact with participating companies via correspondence and numerous reminders. This process is ongoing.

 “We know that some companies have already done this, while others are in the process of doing so.

 “We are working closely with the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team (NTSEAT), the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG), The Property Ombudsman, the Property Redress Scheme, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and other stakeholders as part of an ongoing awareness campaign aimed at estate agents, residential lettings agents and residential managing agents, as well as other companies operating in the property sector.”

The remaining approved redress schemes are:

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11 Comments

  1. Property Poke In The Eye

    They can work closely with whoever.  Regulator hasn’t got the staff to enforce.  So they won’t be going after anybody.

     

    All these membership schemes are all useless in my opinion and do absolute f*** all apart from take money from hard working agents.

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  2. Robert May

    Lovely, a nice binary bit of non-compliance to get their teeth into. None of this troublesomely subjective CPR and BPR nonsense they committed to tackling.

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  3. PeeBee

    Laughable.

    What about those agents who ALREADY trade illegally?

    Those that CURRENTLY don’t belong to a “redress scheme”?

    What about THOSE, Mr Munroe?

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  4. ArthurHouse02

    PeeBee is a joke, can someone find an example of a company that has either been expelled from an ombudsman scheme or one that hasnt been a member that was then closed down by trading standards?

    What is the benefit of being a member? Yes it is the law, i accept that. The public dont care about redress schemes when choosing their estate agent / letting agent, i have never been asked about it on an appointment, there is no awareness. Redress schemes are only relevant when someone wants to complain, which is fine, but again where is the benefit to the estate agent?

    We are basically paying for a service that provides a platform for the moaners of the world and give us advantage at all against companies that are not members.

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    1. PeeBee

      I agree with practically every** word you have posted, ArthurHouse02.

      It’s the second sentence of the second paragraph that is the teller for me.  IT IS ‘the law’ to be a Member of one of these parasitical organisations which collectively are less use than a chocolate teaspoon.  Our industry is rarely recognised or applauded for sterling work – but constantly barracked at every opportunity – whether justified or not.  But the amount of self-policing that is clearly necessary due to the ineffectiveness/apathy of those claiming to be the appointed police is beyond believeability – and even then rarely acted upon.

      Surely other professions cannot have such a f***ed-up process of keeping its Members in check?

      **Not so sure about the “PeeBee is a joke” bit although I’m sure you’ll get a ‘Like’ or two on the back of those four words alone!  I gave you one (OOOHHH ERRRR MATRON!!)

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      1. ArthurHouse02

        As i am sure was fairly obvious, twas a typo…is should read PeeBee “its” a joke.

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  5. scruffy

    Interesting that TPO and Property Redress schemes charge per office whereas Ombudsman Services:property charged per business. As the directors/owners carry the can in all cases, this seems like a loose interpretation of the legislation that says employees do not require individual membership of a redress scheme, just the business.

    Now with a near monopoly position, seemingly gifted by our clever government, and the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team (NTSEAT) at Powys seemingly turning a blind eye, we can look forward to eye-watering price rises each year.

    Sounds familiar ? No doubt they will take their cue from Rightmove while they can.

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  6. Woodie0636

    The TPO were toothless If they give the new property redress scheme a pair of balls so they can do their job that would be a good thing (yes) but don’t hold your breath

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    1. PeeBee

      Woodie0636

      I see that your particular issue got a (albeit brief) hearing in the Commons yesterday.

      Get in touch with EYE’s editor as I have suggested previously.  She will be pleased to hear from you, I have no doubt.

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      1. Woodie0636

        Thanks pee bee took your advice and have been in touch with the editor

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  7. Chris Wood

    The NTSEAT were perfectly happy to allow hundreds of companies to not be members of a redress scheme (a legal requirement) by reinterpreting the law so that as long as they had ‘access to redress’ the companies were not in breach of the law.

    The NTSEAT also unilaterally state that hundreds of one set of franchisees of a call-centre agent are apparently employed* so do not need to comply with other legislation such as having and paying for anti-money-laundering requirements etc. that everyone else does.

    *despite the clear legal status at companies house as being self-employed autonomous Ltd companies in their own right, presumed individual HMRC  PAYE, NI and VAT returns and, the franchisors own public statements to the contrary.

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