The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) are a Government entity who actively undertake and co-ordinate state wide compliance. They handle this via enforcement activities to promote a competitive, fair and informed marketplace.
When the OFT visit your premises they will audit you on certain criteria. The following list includes the ‘big four’ that require strict compliance:
- A statement that advises the public you are subject to a Code of Conduct and that the document is accessible for their perusal
- A licence that is displayed in a visible area; usually located near the front door as people enter your premises
- That a Licensee name and category is presented. It also must be printed in clear font measuring 1.5cm or larger
- A complaints resolution policy must be in place. This must be clear and easy to use for the layperson
The above mentioned are straightforward conditions for business to abide by however the OFT also has to ensure that your letting service is running in accordance with legislation. The following lists further more mandatory items:
The right entity – In order to let a lot you must have permission from the owner of the lot in advance. This permission is formalized through the signing of an ‘Appointment of Agent’ form; specifically the PAMD Form 20a.
Commission and charges – Ensure that your PAMD 20a is completed with all applicable commission or charges. If you do not complete this correctly; you will be required to write a further written agreement in order to raise those charges.
Adherance to licence conditions – Ensure that you are abiding by any conditions listed in the licence entirely.
Staff licencing – Ensure your staff are licenced as required.
Auditing – Ensure you have had all of your statutory audits.
You should be aware that the OFT have the power to complete unscheduled visits. The following tips will ensure you are ready in this instance:
- Answer questions honestly and as transparently as possible. If you have any doubts, advise the OFT official that you would like to seek legal advice. If in doubt it is better to err on the side of caution and gather advice immediately; remember it is your right to do this.
- The OFT can legally undertake the
- Request that you produce documents surrounding your letting business (licences, contracts, PAMD 20a’s etc);
- Advise you when they believe on reasonable grounds that an offense has occurred.
- Never lie to an OFT official. If you refuse to provide information in a reasonable period as requested; then on those grounds you have committed an offence. The consequences of this can range from a fine through to imprisonment, depending on severity.
You may receive formal correspondence from the OFT; if this is the case then seek immediate legal advice. In most cases the issue can be resolved without the need to proceed further, however on occasion you may need to seek further advice.
In summary, any contact or correspondence from the OFT must be taken very seriously. Ensure you follow up quickly with phone calls or documents required. The more prepared you are the easier the process will be for your business.
If you require any assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us at Alert Property Group.