The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme has issued an updated version of its Codes of Practice for agents in the Channel Islands in order to address emerging industry issues and provide continuity in its presence across both the UK and Channel Islands. As this is the first revision to the Channel Island Codes since 2016, there has been considerable changes to incorporate factors such as GDPR requirements, dual fees and referral fees.
TPO consulted with several organisations and individuals during the review process, including Jersey Trading Standards and Jersey Estate Agents’ Association(JEAA), both of which provided a technical review of the lettings and sales codes. The new Codes are available on TPO Codes page which also offers the facility to put forward requests for future changes to the Codes.
Full details of the revisions to the Codes can be seen on the change document available here. The most significant of the changes include:
Both sales and lettings:
· Updated Data Protection requirements relating to personal information
· Requirement to disclose referral fees
· Updated publicity/canvassing requirements
· Requirement to take steps to ensure seller/landlord is entitled to instruct the agent
· 5q/5r– Dual fee paragraphs in-line with other TPO codes
· 5k -Requirement for consumers to choose to actively opt-in to use associated services
· 4e/4f/10f– requirement for property to meet minimum standards
· 7d –disclosure of potential dual fee situations
· 10jto 10m – updated deposit requirements
Baroness Diana Warwick, Chair of the TPO Board, said: “The decision was taken to carry out a full review of the Channel Island Codes to reflect continuing market developments and the obligations now placed on agents by various pieces of legislation that have been enacted.
“The Ombudsman will apply the new Codes of Practice when reviewing consumer complaints about events that have occurred after 1st November 2020 to determine whether or not a TPO registered member has breached the high level of standards required.”
Property Ombudsman, Rebecca March, added: “The rate at which new legislation has been imposed on the industry has accelerated vastly over the last five years and will continue to do so as the world around us changes. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure TPO’s Codes are as up to date and relevant as possible so that agents fully understand their responsibilities. In addition, consumers can have trust and confidence that the obligations we set for agents reduce the potential for consumer detriment to occur and that emerging issues will be considered should they wish to escalate their complaint.
“As the market changes, we continue to provide as much up to date information as possible through our guidance documents, Primary Assured Advice, newsletters, workshops and conferences, to support both members and consumers. Any emerging issues will be raised and discussed at our quarterly forums and flagged to agents at our annual conference on 30 June 2021.”
Nick Dodsley, JEAA Vice President, said: “We have been working for some time with both the TPO and Trading Standards locally to seek revised codes suited to the Channel Islands and in particular to Jersey and are pleased this has now come to fruition. All members of the JEAA are required to comply with the code.”