The Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007 enables the Secretary of State to require those engaging in estate agency work in relation to residential property to be members of an OFT approved estate agents redress scheme.
The Secretary of State for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform made an Order under The Estate Agents Act 1979 (as amended by The Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress (CEAR) Act 2007) on 1 July 2008. This requires those engaging in estate agency work in respect of residential property to join an approved estate agents redress scheme. The Order is available on the UK Statute Law Database.
Details of the redress schemes which are currently approved by the OFT and available for estate agents to join are below. Estate agents wishing to join a scheme should use the application processes detailed on the schemes' websites (links to the websites are below).
The OFT is able to approve a redress scheme if it considers the provisions of the scheme and its proposed operation are satisfactory.
If you do estate agency work involving residential property and you need to join an approved scheme, details of how to join are available on the schemes' websites (at the links below)
As a result of amendments made to the Estate Agents Act 1979 by the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007, the Department for Business, Industry and Skills (BIS) introduced a requirement that estate agents carrying on residential estate agency work must be members of an approved redress scheme, to deal with complaints made about the services provided. The 1979 Act gives the OFT the power to approve redress schemes if it is satisfied they will operate in a satisfactory manner for the purpose of section 23A of the Act. In 2008, the OFT approved two estate agency redress schemes: The Property Ombudsman Scheme (TPO) and Ombudsman Services: Property (OS:P).
The OFT’s statutory responsibilities under the Estate Agents Act 1979 include considering whether an approved scheme should remain approved. As part of this responsibility, the OFT is required to monitor the performance of schemes. In 2012, the OFT advised both approved schemes that it was now undertaking a monitoring review.
The OFT took a risk-based approach in identifying the scope of the review. The key aim was to ensure that the schemes provide a fair and effective review of complaints. This reflects the purpose of section 23A of the 1979 Act that a scheme should provide satisfactory redress for persons dealing with estate agents engaged in residential estate agency work. The review focused particularly on the schemes’ processes for dealing with complaints presented to them about member estate agents, including what the ombudsmen regarded as falling within scope, as well as the decisions and outcomes made. This allowed the OFT to consider whether and how the schemes' decision-making processes had an impact on the outcomes for complainants.
In March 2012, the Government announced its plans for reform of UK’s competition and consumer regime. These include creating a new single Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 establishes the CMA as the UK’s competition and consumer authority. The CMA was established on 1 October 2013 and will gain its full functions and powers on 1 April 2014, when the OFT and the Competition Commission (CC) will be abolished. The CMA will take on the functions of the CC and many of the competition and consumer functions of the OFT.
From 1 April 2014 the OFT's power to approve estate agents redress schemes under the 1979 Act will transfer to a lead trading standards authority. The draft Public Bodies (Abolition of the National Consumer Council and Transfer of the Office of Fair Trading’s Functions in relation to Estate Agents etc) Order 2014 names that lead enforcement authority as Powys County Council.
The schemes have agreed proposals with the OFT to address matters raised by the review. These will be implemented, and their impact will be monitored, both by the schemes and by Powys County Council as the OFT’s successor authority for the purposes of its estate agency work.
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