2. Are they a member of The Property Ombudsman Scheme (TPO Scheme)?
This is a very revealing question, especially if you have already asked the agent if they are a member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents. It is a precondition of ARLA membership to be registered with the TPO Scheme. If you decide however to work with an agent who is not ARLA registered, check if they are a member of the TPO Scheme and if they are not you really should consider very carefully before proceeding any further with that Agent! If fact it is now a mandatory requirement to be part of a recognised redress scheme.
Where a complaint is referred to the Ombudsman they will determine the outcome and the Agent has to abide by any such ruling and agree to pay any compensation, in full and final settlement of the complaint. The Ombudsman can award up to £25,000, which perhaps helps explain why less scrupulous Agents may not be members?
TPO Scheme Agents, such as Regent Lettings must follow The Property Ombudsman Letting Code of Practice. This sets out the framework within which Agents must operate and the standards of service they must provide for both Landlords and Tenants. Reassuringly this code is compulsory and applied rigorously in the handling of complaints. Professional Indemnity insurance is also compulsory to ensure that any compensation awarded for complaint resolution can be paid regardless of the financial capability of the Agent.
Of course, a reputable Agent is less likely to find themselves with a complaint in the first place, especially if they provided the Landlord and Tenant with detailed HD video inventories. Regent Lettings pioneered HD video inventories in the Newbury area and we will explore more about this in a future blog.