Codes of Practice:
Various codes of practice exist in the industry for estate agents, letting agents, managing and business agents, most of which are voluntary, except where they apply to members of a professional association, or in the case of Scotland where it is now a legal requirment.
The National Federation of Property Professionals (NFoPP) promotes mandatory standards of professionalism and integrity for member organisations (NAEA, ARLA, ICBA, NAVA and APIP), and voluntarily for all those working within the property industry, and it encourages members of the public and private landlords to proactively seek out their members when involved in any kind of property transaction.
In Scotland, however, from the 31 January 2018, the Scottish Parliament has introduced a statutory Code of Practice for all letting agents operating in Scotland. This sets out the standards of practice letting agents must meet by law, including a requirement to hold client money protection and professional indemnity insurance.
These codes need to be revised regularly to incorporate the many changes in legislation that have occurred in the lettings industry over recent years. They all emphasise the importance of adhering to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and the new 14 day cancellation period. Taken together these codes represent a comprehensive set of standards by which agents should run their businesses, leading to reduced risk for the consumer, fewer complaints and consistency across the sector.
The Property Ombudsman (TPO)
The property Ombudsman and other agent registration schemes (it is now a mandatory requirement to register with a scheme for all agents) produce codes which are applied when customer complaints are being reviewed. This is to determine if an agent registered with the scheme has breached any of the standards set out in the code. This can result in the registrant body fining the agent (up to the value of £25,000). Serious breaches of the code will be referred to independent Disciplinary & Standards Committees, which have the power to fine or expel agents as well as work with other regulators such as Trading Standards and the Competition and Market Authority.
While the codes do not directly apply to private landlords when letting without an agent to tenants, they nevertheless set out standards to which all landlords should aim for.
The Codes provide a robust framework within which all those involved in lettings should operate. They cover the entire process of selling, buying, letting and renting a property, including information disclosure, offers, deposits, conflicts of interest and an agent’s duty of care.
The Code for Leasing Business Premises in England and Wales 2007 is the result of collaboration between commercial property professionals and industry bodies representing both owners (Landlords) and occupiers (Tenants). The Association Of British Insurers, British Council for Offices, British Retail Consortium, Confederation of British Industry, Communities and Local Government, British Property Federation, CoreNet Global, The Forum of Private Business, Federation of Small Businesses, the Welsh Assembly Government, Investment Property Forum, The Law Society of England and Wales, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Codes of Practice – downloads:
The Letting Agent Code of Practice (Scotland) Regulations 2016 here
The Code for Leasing Business Premises in England and Wales here
©LandlordZONE® – legal content applies primarily to England and is not a definitive statement of the law, always seek professional advice.
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