The Property Ombudsman (TPO)

Purpose: Ombudsman for the property industry

What is an ombudsman?

An ombudsman is an official or a body who is tasked with representing the interests of consumers by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or a violation of consumer rights.

Ombudsmen are a superset of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services, but not all forms of ADR are referred to as ombudsmen.

In fact, ombudsmen are special because only they are allowed by Companies House to refer to themselves as ombudsmen (which is a protected word) and they earn and maintain this right by:

  1. being a statutory complaints organisation; or
  2. being a non-statutory body that:
    1. is certified as a provider of Alternative Dispute Resolution by a competent authority;
    2. has a proven track record in dispute resolution in the relevant complaints area, normally for at least 12 months; and
    3. holds Ombudsman-level membership of the Ombudsman Association which demands that its members adhere to strict criteria to ensure fairness, impartiality and accountability.

The UK has a number of ombudsmen including but not limited to communications and internet services, finance, housing, legal, pensions and property.

Although they all share the title of “Ombudsman”, there is a wide variance in their remit, their powers and arguably their susceptibility to bias.


Reeds Rains

Purpose: Estate Agents

What is Reeds Rains?

Reeds Rains is an estate agent that operates nationwide, with approximately 150 branches around the country. According to their website, they were established in 1868.

That same website makes a big deal of the fact that they have been trading for over 150 years with a lovely little blurb on the homepage designed to convey a wholesome feeling of time-honoured tradition, friendliness and high standards:

In our 150-year history we’ve never lost sight of the need for local expertise or moved away from our founder Samuel Rain’s principles that building great relationships, being genuinely interested in our customers and getting the job done, is the way to achieve success for our customers.

In the website’s footer, they refer to their membership of the Property Ombudsman (TPO), how that is there to protect customers’ interests, and how they abide by the Ombudsman’s code of conduct.

We are members of The Property Ombudsman (TPO), there to protect your interests. We abide by the TPO code of conduct.

Below that is an image of TPO’s logo to reinforce the association.

But does this association actually mean anything as far as the customer is concerned?

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