The Property Ombudsman is to give agents new guidance on dual fees, following a surge in complaints from the public.
In 2017, TPO received 32 cases relating to dual commission fees; last year it received over 50 cases highlighting this as a growing issue.
A TPO industry forum - chaired by board vice-chairman Michael Stoop, and including industry representatives from outside the Ombudsman’s office - has received a presentation on the dual fees issue from Alison Farrar, an investigator for the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team.
As a result, a statement from TPO says: “It was agreed that transparency to the seller at every stage of the process is required and agents need to highlight the circumstances where dual fees could become due if a seller decides to use a second agent.
“Because of the level of detail in a contract, many consumers fail to read and understand all of the information outlined, one solution is to highlight essential information on page one such as, where a seller may be liable for a dual fee.
“Further work will be undertaken by TPO on the issue to provide clear guidance with case study examples.”
The Michael Stoop-led industry forum is one of two set up by TPO in recent months; the other is the Consumer Forum, chaired by Mark McLaren, an independent TPO board member, previously of Which?
The purpose of both bodies is, in the words of a TPO statement, “to facilitate discussion and debate around specific issues which could result in consumer detriment, and consider ways, wherever possible, to eliminate these through guidance, best practice and/or changes to TPO’s Codes of Practice.”