The Property Ombudsman
The Property Ombudsman (TPO) is a UK government-approved organisation which aims to provide better consumer protection for home buyers and sellers, landlords and tenants, by providing independent conflict resolution and raising standards of service in the residential property industry. The Property Ombudsman is also the title by which the head of the TPO is known - currently Christopher Hamer.
The TPO was founded in 1990 as the Ombudsman for Corporate Estate Agents. It then became the Ombudsman for Estate agents on 1 January 1998, finally becoming The Property Ombudsman (TPO) on 1 May 2009.
The TPO runs a voluntary scheme approved by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), and requires estate agents who register with it to uphold a certain code of practice ("TPO Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agents") which includes additional protection for the consumer beyond that required by law. In return participating estate agents are allowed to display a TPO/OFT approved logo. Similarly, letting and property management agents subscribe to a "Code of Practice for Letting Agents".
The Property Ombudsman claims to provide a "free, fair and independent service for dealing with unresolved disputes between sales and letting agents who have joined the TPO and consumers who are actual or potential buyers or sellers or landlords or tenants of residential property in the UK".
Whilst they do usually help tackle rogue lettings/estate agents, sometimes they make awards when it is actually the tenant/sellers fault.
The TPO investigated a case against a lettings agent in 2016 which was the fault of the landlord not providing a suitable property and hindering the estate agent, and awarded in favour of the landlord.
Any client who feels that they have been unfairly disadvantaged by a TPO member (such as an Estate Agent) can take their case to the TPO's dispute resolution service which aims "to reach a resolution of unresolved disputes in full and final settlement". If the complaint is proven, the TPO will act appropriately to redress the complaint - this can include seeking an apology or in some cases making a financial award.