Note - the Landlord Law Blog has now moved to www.landlordlawblog.co.uk.
I stumbled upon this excellent article on the BBC website today, which is by the Property Ombudsman about his service in respect of letting agents. Due to the problems in the property market, many agents are now turning to lettings and, if they are unfamiliar with this area of work, their customers may have some cause to complain about them. The Property Ombudsman (TPO) is one person they can complain to.
Not all agents are members of the TPO scheme. However you can identify those who are as they will normally display the TPO logo.
Members of the TPO scheme are required to abide by a code of conduct which you can find on the TPO website, and the TPO can award compensation of up to £25,000 in any one case. Alternatively if the complainant is unhappy about the TPOs decision he can still go to the courts.
It is worth looking out for the logo when choosing an agent, either as a landlord or as a tenant, and it is good to know that there is an alternative method of complaint about rogue agents. Since October 2008 all estate agents are required to be registered with an approved redress scheme such as TPO (and can be fined by Trading Standards officers if they are not) although this is not the case with agents who only do lettings. However as always, the worst problems are likely to be with the agents who are not registered.