Since the Property Factors Act 2011 was introduced, it has brought a level of regulation to the Property Factoring industry that has helped to provide more protection for all parties. This year, we see changes significant changes being introduced that will place more requirements on Property Factors to be even more transparent in their dealings with owners. Revisions to the Property Factors Act Scotland are being introduced (subject to approval) from 16 August 2021 and replaces the original Code which applied from 1 October 2012.
Property factors will need to be even more organised, with more attention to detail, and with information easily accessible to all who need it, when they need it.
The INSPCT team has read through the proposed changes to the Code of Conduct as we believe clear and consistent reporting mechanisms can provide property factors with peace of mind that they have all of the information they need in a format that is easy to understand and accessible.
So let’s take a look at the aspects of the changes where we can help you comply efficiently.
You must maintain appropriate records of your dealings with homeowners. This is particularly important if you need to demonstrate how you have met the Code’s requirements.
Maintaining appropriate records of dealings with homeowners should be something that happens naturally for property factors. If this is your business, and you are maintaining all appropriate records with ease, then feel free to skip this section.
But perhaps we need to question the word ‘appropriate’ within this context. What might be appropriate now may not have been five, or even two years ago. So it might be that there are records that aren’t being kept that now need to be? Or should be? Or perhaps records are not as easy to find as you would like them to be?
As far as reporting goes, it’s important that all reports that need to be available to or shared with owners are clear, accurate, and stored where they can be found.
When you use INSPCT to do your reporting, you can easily tick this box without even trying. Standardised templates that are created by you and your team, ensure consistency across the board.
And when using CPL Software, you can email the report as soon as it’s complete and then utilise the In-Tray functionality to drag and drop files to where they need to be seen by anyone who needs to see them.
You must respond to enquiries and complaints within reasonable timescales and in line with your complaints handling procedure.
Complaints handling can be a tricky topic for many people, as we generally want to imagine that we don’t get complaints. But of course, things can and do go wrong and instead of thinking about complaints as a negative, we can seek to use them, not just as opportunities to improve, but as opportunities to go above and beyond the expectations of owners.
This can only be done with a robust complaints procedure. Or, rather than calling it complaints, call it something else that welcomes complaints.
You can utilise INSPCT to create a standardised complaints report or form. Simply create your Complaints Report by populating whatever information you would want to gather.
This could include an overview of the compliant, attaching any relevant photos, the date the complaint was raised and when it should be resolved.
A copy of the complaint form can be sent to owners to be signed electronically and once sent back to the property factor, can be signed and then filed and stored for easy reference.
How homeowners can access information, documents and policies/procedures that they may need to understand the operation of the property factor.
As you prepare for the changes, it could be worth taking the extra time to tidy up any information and documents that you need to provide to owners.
We’ve put together a quick checklist:
- Are reports/documents clear and easy to read and understand?
- Do they contain all the information the owner needs?
- Are they branded?
- Are they easy to email and file for easy reference?
- Are they digital so they can be reused or referred to again?
This is the perfect time to gather all of your owner-facing documents together and ensure they are representing your business as they should be.
The changes to the Property Factors Act shouldn’t be too complex but if there are areas you think you could improve on or you any need help with, please do contact the team if you have any questions or to find out more about how we can help you.