A lettings agent has been fined £3,000 for failing to belong to an approved redress scheme for property management. Samson Estates was a member of the Property Ombudsman Scheme for its residential and commercial sales and lettings, but this did not cover it for its residential leasehold management activities.
Agents are legally obliged to be a member of a redress scheme, which covers the full extent of their activities. Failure to do so exposes them to the risk of a fine. There are two approved redress schemes run by The Property Ombudsman and the Property Redress Scheme.
Now National Trading Standards has issued guidance to estate agents and property management firms, urging them to check that they are signed up with an approved redress scheme that covers the full remit of their work.
James Munro, Head of National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team, said: “The recent tribunal decision shows businesses that are signed up to redress schemes for one area of their work but not for others may face hefty penalties in the courts.”
Both The Property Ombudsman and the Property Redress Scheme offer advice and guidance to agents about membership of their redress schemes and the categories of work covered.
National Trading Standards has published its guidance on its website and reports of the case have been published by ARLA and the Residential Landlords Association. The Upper Tribunal’s full decision has been published here.
“Agents need to make sure that not only are they members of an appropriate redress scheme, but that they also have effective procedures to deal with complaints quickly,” said James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professions. “Unresolved complaints can quickly escalate to a point at which they become a far more serious allegation of professional negligence.”
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