The Property Ombudsman (TPO) is to implement a ‘fair usage’ policy, meaning that members that consistently generate the most Ombudsman supported complaints will pay more towards the costs of the scheme. TPO also announced its first increase to membership fees in six years. The fees will apply for new members, renewals and new branches from January 2020.
Since 2014, enquiries and complaints to The Property Ombudsman have risen by 73% and 40% respectively. As a result, increased costs of running the scheme, together with planned investment to enable ongoing improvements, have made it necessary to review and adjust its membership fees.
The basic fee will increase from £195 to £225, however, discounts will be available to organisations either based on continued membership of Propertymark, as is the case now, or by size.
Fair and effective fees
Property Ombudsman Chair of the Finance & Performance Committee, Gerry Fitzjohn (left), said: “TPO is a not-for-profit Ombudsman scheme, therefore the revised fee structure is based on Ombudsman principles of fairness, effectiveness, openness and transparency, rather than profit-making principles.
“We understand that agents’ costs have been stretched over the last few years, so increasing fees is not a decision which has been taken lightly but is absolutely necessary to ensure a properly resourced scheme is in place.”
In addition, TPO membership will support a ‘fair usage’ policy which will enable up to three Ombudsman supported complaints per branch, per renewal year. Branches which generate more than three Ombudsman supported complaints will pay more. There will be no additional charge for cases which are not supported, or those which end at early resolution.