In an industry first, a member of staff from The Property Ombudsman and our very own Lauren O’Niell switched roles for a week. With an aim of gaining greater understanding and knowledge of each other’s positions within the industry, it was a unique opportunity for both organisations.
The ombudsman Christopher Hamer approached Northwood as part of TPO’s ongoing application to raise standards within the industry. As a strong proponent for raising industry standards Northwood was a natural choice for participating in the swap.
Hamer said: “It is hugely beneficial for my office to be aware of the practical issues agents face when trying to resolve matters themselves.
This exchange will, I hope, help bring about a good understanding of the challenges agents might come up against before unresolved disputes are referred to me. It will also help educate on the meticulous process which occurs in my office prior to determining resolution of a dispute.”
Eric Walker, managing director of Northwood said: “We were absolutely delighted to take part in this initiative. TPO has provided the industry with an immense service, which we agreed would be enhanced by demonstrating front line issues experienced by agents. In return, we gained a better understanding of the challenges faced by the Ombudsman’s team.
Gemma Currie, first contact evaluation officer at TPO, spent the week in both the Northwood Franchise office in Fareham and also the Portsmouth office, experiencing a typical day as a letting agent and appreciating how the company handles complaints.
She said: “Minimising the chances of issues escalating is what we at TPO strive for, so it was reassuring to see how thorough Northwood’s procedure was and how much work goes into resolving cases in the first instance.”
Lauren O’Neill, complaints and legal support at Northwood, spent the week between the complaints operations department and the assessment resolution team at TPO.
Eric further commented “Lauren has brought back some excellent ideas and we are certain Gemma has gained a better understanding of what letting agents face on a daily basis together with an appreciation of how hard the vast majority of agents work to protect consumers’ interests. I wish to record my appreciation to Chris Hamer for this great opportunity.”
Hamer said: “This exercise was invaluable in creating an awareness for both TPO and Northwood of each other’s roles and realism in handling disputes.
For further coverage of the job swap go to
Northwood provides a full range of lettings and sales services and is a leading supplier of Guaranteed Rent across the UK, giving landlords complete peace of mind that their rent will be paid each and every month.
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