The Property Ombudsman’s office is still receiving 40 to 50 calls a day from the public, even though most transactions with agents are at a standstill during lockdown.
However, all cases currently being handled by TPO staff - all of which are obviously working from home - have been given three week extensions.
A statement from TPO this week says: “We very much acknowledge the limitations placed on agents and consumers, and would wish to emphasise that the priority is for everyone to stay safe and observe government guidelines … We will update consumers and agents on a case by case basis and continue to review service provision in these exceptional circumstances.”
On its website TPO says that it has received advice from the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team saying that:
- if a business stops trading, that is, winds up a company or closes the business, they will no longer need to be a member of a redress scheme;
- if a business suspends operations, but has customers on its books (that is, instructed sales, tenants/buyers looking for properties) or is marketing properties (on its website or on portals), or is collecting rent from tenants, or managing property on behalf of a landlord, then they will need to maintain their membership of a redress scheme;
- and that redress schemes are still required to report all instances of a failure to renew redress membership by an agent to NTSELAT in a timely manner.
TPO has already announced that annual conference, which was to have been held on June 18, was being postponed until next year. In its place, TPO will be holding a Rightmove Webinar.
Tickets already purchased will be credited towards TPO’s Conference in 2021, when normal business resumes.