In September 2014, it was made law that agencies letting properties in England, Scotland or Wales had to become a member of a redress scheme. As of 1 June 2015, agents had to show that they were a member of one of the approved schemes offered by a trade association or guild such as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and display the appropriate symbol in their office window. Regular followers of the blog will know that I have an innate mistrust of trade associations and guilds, as they bear all the hallmarks of private clubs. The only or indeed, ultimate form of punishment is to be excluded from the said club. Without wishing to sound too agonistic, big deal. Incidentally, membership invariably comes at a not insignificant financial cost. ‘Industry training’ and the equally enticing, ‘industry recognised qualifications’ are often trotted out as indisputable reasons for putting your name on the dotted line. Whatever the industry may or may not recognise, these qualifications do not stop anyone breaking the law or the guidelines set out by Trading Standards. On that basis, how does that protect the client? But the agents are qualified I hear you cry. Well, I believe the Kray twins had two o-levels a piece and Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that education was essential to ensuring that the Third Reich would last 1000 years. Not that that worked out too well.
At Cheshire & Co we have always advocated that the concern of any agent should be focussed on the people who can really do one damage, by stopping them trading and therefore earning-this would be Trading Standards. They do have teeth and are not afraid to use them as opposed to a club, I mean guild who when one feels their wrath could liken the experience to being savaged by a broken-mouthed ewe. Well, that’s guaranteed to get me blackballed forever. In order to meet all legal requirements we have elected to join The Property Ombudsman’s (TPO) scheme which is as close to a government body and as far away from a private club as is possible. The TPO insist that members must have professional indemnity insurance as well as public liability, so that in the event of TPO upholding a claim against us, it can be paid for by the insurers. So any headline that reads how Robublind Estate Agents have been fined £1million is a little misleading. Yes, they have been fiend, No they are not finding the money to make the payment, that is the remit of their insurance company. So who is actually being protected, the agency or the client? By joining TPO and being subject to their T’s and C’s, they are actually protecting me. This is a good thing; particularly when nefarious individuals conduct themselves in an inappropriate manner, breach the terms as laid down by TPO, are handed a hefty fine, their insurers pay up and the award to the injured party is then split between the client… and the agent. Cynical, moi?