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: