The TPO Code of Practice requires agents to meet all their legal obligations when acting as agents, but it goes above and beyond that by requiring agents to adopt and follow ‘best practice'. This includes:
- Duty of care. An agent must always work in the best interests of the client, that is to say the person who is paying for the letting agency services (usually the landlord). But the agent must also always treat fairly, and with courtesy, all those involved in the proposed renting or letting. If the agent or one of its staff has any personal or business interest in the property, the landlord must be told.
- Impartiality. An agent must make sure that no tenants or landlords are disadvantaged because they are unfamiliar with any aspect of the letting process. An agent will offer appropriate explanations and assistance to all, regardless of age, race, religious belief, gender, sexuality, ethnicity or disability.
- Access. An agent must keep accurate records of keys held, and inform current tenants of any access required, except in cases of genuine emergency.
What else can tenants expect from a TPO registered letting agent?
- Offers. When an offer has been accepted but before the tenancy agreement is in force the agent must inform the applicant whether or not marketing is to continue.
- Deposits. Any deposit that the tenant may be required to pay at the beginning of a tenancy which is held by the agent must be held in a client's account. The law requires that any deposit taken on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy is transferred within 14 days either to an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme, or is protected by an insurance based scheme, for which the agent pays a fee to insure against their failure to repay any money due to the tenant.
- Tenancy Agreement. Tenants should expect to be supplied with a draft Tenancy Agreement to read before signing, recording the terms of the letting including the rent, deposit or ancillary fees and charges, duration and repair obligations.
- Inventory. The agent should ensure that the tenant receives an inventory of furniture, fittings and equipment at the beginning of the tenancy to record the condition of the property and/or contents.