Virtual viewings, CCTV in rental properties and prohibited payments have been identified as some of the emerging issues facing the agency sector.
The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has revealed the focus of meetings held by its consumer and industry forums at their latest meeting last week.
The respective group’s meetings were held on Zoom last Wednesday July 2nd.
The first session from the consumer forum included an update from Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman, who highlighted emerging complaint issues including video viewings and the use of CCTV in rental properties.
Other topics for discussion included the ongoing issue of ‘No DSS’ clauses in rental contracts, raised by Shelter, which confirmed the charity is making progress in lobbying for change to reduce discrimination surrounding tenants in receipt of benefits.
National Trading Standards Estate and Lettings Agency Team (NTSELAT) discussed the need to raise awareness of prohibited payments under the Tenant Fees Act, the different ways consumers can reclaim these payments and how NTSELAT has been giving training to local trading standards.
The industry forum heard from Theresa Wallace of The Letting Industry Council (TLIC) about the use of unique property reference numbers and discussed issues arising out of the nationwide lockdown and measures that must be taken by agents as gradual easing of lockdown is introduced.
Mark McLaren, chair of the consumer forum, said:
“The forums have proved extremely successful in raising and addressing issues which have, or could, cause consumer detriment.
“We work together to eliminate these through guidance, best practice and/or changes to TPO’s Codes of Practice.
“This has never been more important as we support the Steering Group in preparing an overarching, workable set of codes which will enable consumers to understand the service standard they should expect from agents.”
Michael Stoop, chair of the industry forum, said:
“A home is the most precious of commodities and affects people’s health and happiness – agents play a vital role in facilitating that and more must be done to educate consumers to choose professional agents who support regulation, qualifications and best practice.
“The industry forum, which is representative of the whole property sector including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, has enabled us to listen to one another’s challenges in an ever-changing market and find ways to ensure agents learn to adapt so that they can be successful in delivering a professional and compliant service.”
Both forums were launched in 2018 to provide guidance to the work of TPO.
The next meetings will take place on November 18 2020.