What is a property ombudsman?

Last updated: March 2024 | 5 min read

The conveyancing process is a complicated one for which you will in all probability be hiring a property specialist for some specific tasks you are required to do, for instance, an estate agent, managing agent, or letting agent.

The process of conveyancing is not free from difficulties, and there is always a possibility that sometimes things may go wrong usually because a property specialist has not diligently completed the process.

You may feel cheated by a property specialist or have complaints relating to communication, record keeping and marketing. If you want to take them to court, you will incur a considerable expense, and it will take several months for the court to render its decision.

Property ombudsman - an alternative to going to court

If such is the case, property ombudsmen offer free, fair and independent services for dealing with disputes as an alternative to going to court and are a much quicker way of resolving any disputes you may have with a property specialist.

How do property ombudsmen work?

There are two government-approved schemes, and you may opt for either when faced with issues with your property specialist: the Property Ombudsman and the Property Redress Scheme.

Every agent is bound to be a part of either of these schemes as a matter of law. If you cannot figure which scheme the agent is a member of, ask the firm against which you have a dispute.

The Property Ombudsman Scheme

The Property Ombudsman Scheme ("TPOS") is the largest redressal schemes in the property industry established in 1990. You are required to submit a complaint with the ombudsman and attach the necessary evidence with it. The property ombudsman will consider all the evidence linked. If the ombudsman thinks that your claim is right, they will convey their decision to the property specialist. It can also make a financial award up to £25,000.

Further, the property specialist can only appeal against the ombudsman's decision if there is an error in the judgment or if new evidence has appeared.

The Property Redress Scheme

The Property Redress Scheme started in 2014. An ombudsman will first assess the validity of your case, once a complaint is submitted to the Property Redress Scheme.

After that, the property specialist has 10 working days to either resolve the matter or present a rebuttal. If your claim is valid, a decision will be issued and communicated to the property specialist which it will have to comply with within 10 working days. It can also make a financial award up to £25,000.

You cannot directly complain to a property ombudsman

However, you should note that before you make a complaint through either of the schemes, you are required to exhaust the internal complaint procedure of the property specialist.

You are required to give the property specialist 8 weeks to respond to your complaint before you can take benefit of either of the schemes.

What penalties can property specialist face?

Membership in either of the schemes is required from property specialists to operate in the property industry. If they refuse to follow orders, they may be expelled as a member of the scheme and will not be allowed to rejoin another scheme until they have fulfilled their obligations. Additionally, they have the power to give a financial award up to £25,000, although in reality, the awards are usually a lot less.

Complain to their Trade Association

Additionally, you can also lodge a formal complaint with their trade associations.

Estate Agent

If you are unsatisfied with the treatment meted out to you by your estate agent, you can approach their trade association known as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA). The NAEA will investigate your claim for free. Further, NAEA's rules bind it to take disciplinary action on your behalf against the estate agent if they have not protected and furthered your interests. [http://www.naea.co.uk/]

Letting Agent

All letting agents are a member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). If you have a claim against your letting agent, you can approach the ARLA which will investigate the matter and may take disciplinary action against the letting agent if your claim is right.

Managing Agent

For managing agents, you can approach their professional body known as the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA). There is a legal requirement of all firms of managing agents to offer access to TPOS and PRS where unresolved disputes may be taken up, without you having to pay a single penny.


If you feel that the property specialist you hired such as an estate agent, letting agent, and a managing agent has mistreated you against your interests and despite complaining to them, the dispute has remained unresolved.

Then you may take benefit of an ombudsman who will resolve your dispute free of cost, and his decision will be binding on the property specialist. Additionally, you may also make a complaint to their trade association.

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