Residential property collaboration boosts consumer protection

This provides for closer working relationships between them to ensure clear, common standards which are promoted among property providers. The two bodies have identified initial areas where they plan to work together over the next three months to:

• Align the respective Codes of Practice so that the roles and responsibilities of HIP and search providers and agents are clear;
• Provide a single point of contact for consumers and independent redress for their complaints against providers and agents should things go wrong during the transaction.

PCCB Chairman, Richard Footitt said: "The OEA has extensive and unrivalled experience of handling consumer complaints and providing effective redress where problems arise.

"The PCCB brings a very hands-on and practical approach to complement this. Our programme of risk-based inspections gives us the ability to act quickly and secure changes in practice where these are needed, and we aim to support those in the industry who are striving to maintain high standards.

"Bringing the two approaches together promises to add real value to our efforts and is designed to assure consumers that we have their interests to the fore."

Bill McClintock, Board Chairman of OEA said: "These arrangements will enhance the consistency of standards for those responsible for delivering HIPs and will help consumers understand the process."

The MOU is consistent with the recommendations contained in two recent Government report on consumer redress and consumer experiences of HIPs. The plans have been welcomed by Ministers and consumer representatives.

Mark McLaren of Which? said: "Most consumers find buying or selling a house a stressful, confusing and difficult process. So any development that genuinely enhances the consumer experience has to be good news.

"It is vital that consumers are able to easily access clear advice when they have a query or complaint and have this addressed quickly and efficiently. So we welcome this move to develop a seamless relationship between the vast majority of estate agents and HIP and search providers for the benefit of consumers."

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