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FAQs

Practitioners

A Redress Scheme is a scheme which allows consumers to escalate a complaint they have against the member of the scheme. The main purpose of the redress scheme is to resolve or settle unresolved complaints from consumers who have suffered a loss as a result of the actions of the member. It is an alternative to using the Courts and the complainant must have exhausted the Member’s internal complaints process before contacting the redress scheme.

It is the law under the Letting Agency Work and Cosmetic Management Work (Approval and Designation of Schemes) (England) Order 2013 for all Letting and Cosmetic Management Agents in England to join a Redress Scheme from 1st October 2014. It is already the law under the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act (CEARA) 2007 for all Estate Agents in the UK to be a member of a redress scheme.

The Cosmetic Redress Scheme is a consumer redress scheme authorised by the Department for Communities and Local Government (“DCLG”) and by the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team to offer redress to consumers of Lettings, Cosmetic Management and Estate Agents. It is also open to other Cosmetic Professionals to show they are committed to providing excellent customer service and improving standards within their area of interest in the Cosmetic industry.

Complete the application simple application process and pay the relevant membership fee. We need to know the name of the agency, the main contact, the type of work you do, whether you have any extra branches and also the details of at least one owner of the agency.

The online application form will allow you to register as many branches as you wish. You will also be able to add branches through your online account or by informing us over the telephone or by email. We may charge a pro rata fee to add the branch depending on how long there is left to go in your subscription (yearly) period.

We will contact the Head Office and request the new branch be added and relevant fee paid from when the branch opened. If the Agent does not comply, then we will be required to inform the local Trading Standards office and the Advisory Board will decide whether to remove the Agent from the scheme.

All Agent members should display a window sticker on their trading premises to show they are a member. They are also required to provide the consumer leaflet explaining that the Agent is a member and giving information about how we work to their consumers.

Memberships will need to be renewed yearly and paid for on each anniversary date of membership. The Cosmetic Redress Scheme reserves the right to provide individual pricing for subsequent years depending on the Agent’s complaint ratio.

The criteria for acceptance of a complaint are as follows: a. the complainant has grounds for complaint; b. the complaint is made against an Member; c. the complainant has already exhausted the Member’s internal complaints procedure; d. the complainant has waited 8 weeks for a response from the date of complaint to the Member; e. the complaint is made within 6 months of the last correspondence received from the Member.

We shall not investigate a complaint (or any part of a complaint), or shall discontinue the investigation of a complaint (or any part), if: a. at any time it appears it is more appropriate for the complaint to be dealt with by a Court or under another independent complaints, conciliation or arbitration procedure b. at any time we finds out that the complaint is already being or has been considered by a Court, or under another independent complaints, conciliation or arbitration procedure c. in our opinion the complaint does not have a reasonable prospect of success or is considered to be frivolous or vexatious.

When any of the following has happened: a. A breach of the Agent Member’s obligations under the law; b. Where legal rights have been impinged or breached; c. Where an Agent Member has not acted in accordance with a Code of Practice it has signed up to, or any internal rules, procedures or statements of practice; d. Unfair treatment of the complainant by the Member; including, but not limited to: i. rudeness or discourtesy ii. not explaining matters iii. poor or incompetent service iv. avoidable delays e. Where an Agent Member has not administered a transaction as efficiently as would be expected. f. The Agent’s actions must have resulted in the complainant suffering a financial loss, or unnecessary aggravation, distress and/or inconvenience.

On receipt of a complaint the Case Assessor will first check that the complainant has grounds for complaint and if so, inform the Member. The Member will then have 10 working days to provide us with their rebuttal to the complaint. Once all evidence is received, the scheme will decide whether the complaint will be processed further. If the complaint is accepted, you will be assigned a Case Assessor who will spend 20 days creating a mutually acceptable resolution plan with both parties. The hope is that the dispute can be resolved at this stage with the Case Assessor’s expert advice and experience. If a resolution still cannot be sought, the case will be passed to the Head of Redress who will make a final decision on the Complaint.

Generally the Member cannot use a third party to represent them because as the professional you should be able to act for yourself and explain your own position when it comes to a complaint. In exceptional circumstances we may accept a third party to act on your behalf.

From receipt of the complaint to the Ombudsman’s decision, the process is expected to take approximately 40 working days if there are no delays.

In settlement of the complaint, the Ombudsman may make an award to the complainant ranging from an apology, explanation to reimbursement of financial loss or a compensation sum for inconvenience and distress up to a maximum of £25,000. Any compensation payment will be calculated based on demonstrable loss or costs and will take into account any degree to which the complainant has contributed to the failure or loss suffered.

The Complainant will have 15 working days to confirm whether he agrees to the decision. If he agrees, the decision is binding on the Agent and he must comply with the findings of the decision within 10 working days. If the complainant does not respond or does not agree with the decision, the CRS will close the file and the complainant will have to use the Court is he wishes to pursue the Agent.

The CRS complaints procedure cannot be used if a party is unhappy with a decision of the Ombudsman. The Agent will have been given an opportunity to provide its case and all evidence. The Agent will also be given an indication of the type of decision the Ombudsman will make at the end of the evidence gathering process.

Complaints can only be made about the process or service provided by the CRS. The majority of complaints will be dealt with within 5 workings days. Please see the CRS Complaints Procedure.

If you do not comply with the Ombudsman decision within the 10 working days, the complainant can obtain enforcement of the decision through the Courts. On confirmation that the decision has not been complied with, the CRS will issue a penalty fee of £100.00 plus VAT. If the Agent pays the fee and complies with the decision within a further 5 working days then no further action will be taken. If the Agent does not pay the penalty fee and continues not to comply with the decision, then the Agent’s membership with the CRS will be suspended pending investigation by the Head of Redress. Cancellation of the Agent’s membership may then follow at which point the CRS will also inform the local Trading Standards Office and any other relevant redress schemes.

The Agent will only be able to re-join the CRS on payment of the fine, complying with the decision and then on payment of a further membership fee which may be at a higher rate.

Consumers

The Cosmetic Redress Scheme is a consumer redress scheme authorised by the Department for Communities and Local Government (“DCLG”) and by the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team to offer redress to consumers of Lettings, Cosmetic Management and Estate Agents. It is also open to other Cosmetic Professionals to show they are committed to providing excellent customer service and improving standards within their area of interest in the Cosmetic industry.

No. The Agent complying with the decision will be in full and final settlement of your complaint.

A Redress Scheme is a scheme which allows consumers to escalate a complaint they have against the member of the scheme. The main purpose of the redress scheme is to resolve or settle unresolved complaints from consumers who have suffered a loss as a result of the actions of the member. It is an alternative to using the Courts and the complainant must have exhausted the Member’s internal complaints process before contacting the redress scheme.

All our Agent members will be asked to display a window sticker on their trading premises to show their membership with the Scheme. All our Agent members will be required to provide a leaflet explaining the way the Scheme works to all landlords and tenants. Some of our Agents members may also provide a link to the Scheme’s website on their own website where you will be able to check if your Agent is a member of the CRS. You are also able to check on the CRS website whether your Agent has purchased a membership with the Scheme.

You will need to ask your Agent about their membership with a Redress Scheme first. From 1st October 2014 all Lettings and Cosmetic Management Agents are required to join a government approved Redress Scheme. Past that date, if they are unable or unwilling to provide you with proof of membership, then they are in breach of the Letting Agency Work and Cosmetic Management Work (Approval and Designation of Schemes) (England) Order 2013. You may then be able to report them to the local Trading Standards Office.

No. There is no obligation on Agents Members of the CRS to abide by a Code of Practice. If they have voluntarily joined a scheme which has one, it is good practice for the Agent to make the document available to their customers.

No. You may need to confirm with the Agent first if they have a complaint procedure and ask for a copy if you are not happy with the service you have received.

You are still able to write to the Manager or a director/owner to complain. Please keep copies of all correspondence with the Agent with proof of date sent, if available.

There is no requirement under the Order for the Letting and Cosmetic Management Agents to have these. However, we encourage our Members to purchase professional indemnity insurance.

When any of the following has happened: a. A breach of the Agent Member’s obligations under the law; b. Where legal rights have been impinged or breached; c. Where an Agent Member has not acted in accordance with a Code of Practice it has signed up to, or any internal rules, procedures or statements of practice; d. Unfair treatment of the complainant by the Member; including, but not limited to: i. rudeness or discourtesy ii. not explaining matters iii. poor or incompetent service iv. avoidable delays e. Where an Agent Member has not administered a transaction as efficiently as would be expected. f. The Agent’s actions must have resulted in the complainant suffering a financial loss, or unnecessary aggravation, distress and/or inconvenience.

The criteria for acceptance of a complaint are as follows: a. the complainant has grounds for complaint; b. the complaint is made against a Member; c. the complainant has already exhausted the Agent’s internal complaints procedure; d. the complainant has waited 8 weeks for a response from the date of complaint to the Member; e. the complaint is made within 6 months of the last correspondence received from the Member.

You will need to download our Complaint Form, complete it and provide us with the relevant documents e. copies of correspondence to and from your Agent together with all relevant supporting evidence. Examples of helpful evidence are: Tenancy Agreement, Management Agreement, Invoices and/or Receipts etc, Bank statements or Rent Accounts etc. More information is available on our Guidance page at: www.theCRS.co.uk/complaints . Alternatively, you may request a hard copy of our form or lodge your complaint through the phone.

We shall not investigate your complaint (or any part of your complaint), or shall discontinue the investigation of your complaint (or any part), if: a. at any time it appears it is more appropriate for the complaint to be dealt with by a Court or under another independent complaints, conciliation or arbitration procedure b. at any time the CRS finds out that the complaint is already being or has been considered by a Court, or under another independent complaints, conciliation or arbitration procedure c. in the CRS’ opinion the complaint does not have a reasonable prospect of success or is considered to be frivolous or vexatious.

On receipt of your complaint the Case Assessor will first check that you have grounds for complaint and if so, inform the Agent member. The parties will be allowed 10 working days to resolve the complaint with the assistance of the Case Assessor. If a mutual agreement is made within the 10 working days the CRS will request confirmation that you are satisfied with the resolution. If the matter is not resolved within the first 10 working days then the Case Assessor will prepare a resolution plan and collect any further evidence that will enable the Ombudsman to make an informed decision. Your case will then be forwarded to the Ombudsman. For the full complaints process please refer to our “Making a Complaint to the CRS” document available on our website.

Yes, providing the CRS are provided with a satisfactory authority for that person to act.

From receipt of your complaint to the Ombudsman’s decision, the process is expected to take approximately 40 working days if there are no delays. For full details please refer to our Complaints Process found under on our Guidance Page at www.theCRS.co.uk/complaints .

If the Ombudsman upholds your complaint, he may make an award to you ranging from an apology, explanation to reimbursement of financial loss or a compensation sum for inconvenience and distress. The Ombudsman can make awards up to £25,000. Any compensation payment will be calculated based on demonstrable loss or costs and will take into account any degree to which the complainant has contributed to the failure or loss suffered.

You will have 15 working days to confirm whether you agree with the decision. If you agree, the decision is binding on the Agent and he must comply with the findings of the decision within 10 working days. If you do not respond or do not agree with the decision, the Scheme will close the file and you will have to use the Court is you wish to pursue the Agent.

If the Agent does not comply with the decision within the 10 working days, you can obtain enforcement of the decision through the Courts. If we discover that the Agent has not complied with a decision, then the Agent’s membership with the CRS will be suspended pending investigation by the Head of Redress. Cancellation of the Agent’s membership may then follow at which point the CRS will also inform the local Trading Standards Office and any other relevant redress schemes.

The Scheme complaints procedure cannot be used if a party is unhappy with a decision of the Ombudsman. You may need to advise the CRS that you do not agree with the decision and you may then take your dispute to the Court.

Complaints can only be made about the process or service provided by the Scheme. The majority of complaints will be dealt with within 5 workings days. Please see the CRS Complaints Procedure.

The Scheme will: a. Publicise all decisions made by the Ombudsman (removing personal data); b. Provide case studies on regularly occurring topics so complainants and Agents can view how decisions are made; c. Provide guidance on the types of evidence that are considered by the CRS and how best to set out a complaint or response; d. Provide help and guidance to complainants and Agents so they understand any CRS process and fill out any CRS form correctly. This includes membership and complaints processes. The assistance will be by telephone and email; All the above will be available on our website and hard copies will only be sent on demand.

Whilst in dispute with the Agent, we advise that you pay all fees as set out in your contract until you have an agreement, decision or court order saying otherwise . If you withhold rent or any other payment agreed to in writing, then you run the risk of the Agent initiating court proceedings for the monies owed. It is best practice to pay the owed money and then claim back for any amount you do not feel you should have paid either through the scheme or the small claims court.

Yes. Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, your Agent must provide you with a written statement of the landlord’s name and address within the period of 21 days beginning with the day on which he receives the request.

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