OEA changes its name as it widens its remit

The Ombudsman for Estate Agents scheme is changing its name on Friday (May 1) to the Property Ombudsman Service (TPOS).

The new name reflects the growth of the scheme, which is expected to open its doors to commercial property agents, HIP providers, personal search firms and some overseas agents.

The OEA was controversially founded as the Ombudsman for Corporate Estate Agents in 1990, as a marketing device for the corporates.

At first it excluded independents from membership but later accepted them. Many independents believed that it only did so because it needed the extra revenue, and a number of agents boycotted the scheme.

However, membership grew once the NAEA made it a mandatory condition of their own membership. Since then, under HIP and consumer redress legislation, it has become mandatory for all sales agents to belong to an approved redress scheme - of which there are only two.

The OEA is far larger than the RICS's scheme, SOS, and claims around 95% of the market.

OEA numbers have also been boosted by lettings agents. Both ARLA and NALS make membership mandatory.

For the change of name, there will be a new logo for window displays, in blue with the OFT Approved Codes symbol alongside for sales offices, and in green without the OFT logo for lettings.

Commercial property sales members will have a black logo when the scheme expands soon to cover some of their activities.

TPOS chief operating officer Bill McClintock said: "Expansion of our scheme will help ensure its healthy future and spread costs over a wider membership base."

"As the principal means of redress for consumers in the property sector, reflected by 95% of UK estate agency offices being covered by our scheme, and our widening fields of activity which will also extend to including HIPs and property search providers, we consider the old name no longer reflected all that we do."

"Membership has increased dramatically in the past few years and at the same time OEA has also expanded to take in lettings as well as its original remit to cover agents selling residential property. In the near future, we will also be embracing some commercial property activities as well as the UK end of foreign residential property transactions."

"We have submitted our lettings Code of Practice to the OFT for endorsement under its Consumer Codes Approval Scheme, which we see as vital in current market conditions where lettings are dominating activity."

source: www.tpos.co.uk Estate Agent Today.


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