All estate agents are not equal. Some are superb, a few are less so. Did you know there’s an Estate Agents Code of Practice UK? It’s a good move to research the Estate Agent Code of Conduct when you’re planning to invest in property, create a property portfolio, or buy privately for yourself or your family. Familiarising yourself with the rules and regulations that bind estate agents means you’ll steer clear of risks, know when something is wrong, and know what to do to put things right. Read on to find out all about the UK’s code of practice for estate agents.
What is the Estate Agents Code of Practice?
Let’s examine the real estate agency practice code of conduct. First, what is the Property Ombudsman Scheme? The Ombudsman for estate agents code of practice is what lies behind a free, impartial and independent Ombudsman service, designed to resolve disputes between consumers and property agents. They’ve been doing it since 1990.
What is the TPO Code of Practice? The scheme was born out of a need to regulate the industry and crack down on troublesome tenants, rogue estate agents, and bad landlords. There are multiple codes of practice, each specially created for specific types of experts in specified locations.
The Code of practice for Residential Letting Agents came into being on 1st June 2019. It lays down the specifics around how a residential estate agent should behave in England.
The Code of practice for Residential Estate Agents has applied in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland since 1st June 2019.
There’s a separate code for residential estate agents in the Channel Islands. And the Code of practice for Commercial and Business Agents has been effective since 1st June 2019.
There are also unique Estate Agents Ombudsman Code of Practice documents specific to:
- Residential buying agents
- Residential property buying companies
- Residential letting agents code of practice for Scotland
- Residential estate agents in Scotland
- Residential letting agents in the Channel Islands
What does the Estate Agents Code of Practice Cover?
What does the code of practice for estate agents cover? All the various codes of practice involved in the estate agent code of conduct cover a suite of essentials including best practices and legal obligations. Each document includes a highly detailed description of the agent’s responsibility for abiding by the relevant laws, rules and regulations.
For example, under the code of practice for residential letting agents, every estate agent must register with the appropriate authority to meet the needs of the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017. And there’s a strong requirement for every agent to treat everybody involved in the proposed sale or purchase, including sellers and buyers, fairly and with courtesy. In fact these documents deal with every aspect of an estate agent’s role, including:
- Their duty of care to everyone involved
- Conflicts of interest
- Advertising for new business
- Market appraisals
- Terms of Business,
- Fees, Charges and Termination
- Marketing and Advertising
- Published Material and Information about a Property
- Viewing and Access to Premises
- Holding Deposits
- Referencing and Pre-Tenancy
- Tenancy Payments
- Tenancy Agreement, Inventories and Deposits
- Rent Collection
- Termination of a Tenancy
- End of Tenancy – Deposits, Disputes and Damages
- Clients’ Money
- In-house Complaints Handling
- Referrals to the Ombudsman
- Compliance Monitoring
- Non-Compliance with the Code
Why is the Estate Agents Code of Practice Important?
The Estate Agents Ombudsman Code of Practice matters in so many ways. It’s great to know that the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the UK’s largest professional and regulatory body for letting agents, demands that its members follow the TPO Code of Practice.
The Estate Agents Code of Practice has also been approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI). In order to display either the CTSI logo or the ARLA Propertymark on their marketing and advertising materials, both widely respected as proof of great service and trustworthiness, estate agencies must ensure they abide by the code at every stage, in every transaction.
These codes of practice are intended to promote the highest standards in every aspect of estate agency activity, covering the sales and lettings, residential and commercial process from beginning to end. The idea is to ensure consumers are always crystal clear about the standards they should expect from property professionals, giving people the confidence they deserve in their chosen residential and commercial property agent, and knowing if things go wrong the agent will be held to account.
Knowledge Means Power
Now you understand the purpose and extent of the Estate Agents Ombudsman Code of Practice, you can move ahead with confidence. The estate agent code of conduct helps prospective property investors and developers buy smoothly, enjoy truly professional support from the experts, and know exactly how to proceed if they’re let down in any way.