The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has published its Agent Standards Code of Practice that sets out its expectations of agents.
The code of practice – which covers Behaviour, Professional Practice and Services – also gives an overview of how the VOA will deal with any agents who don’t meet these standards.
You can find the full details here but, in summary the VOA expects the following:
- Integrity and honesty
Be straightforward and honest.
Be open and co-operative when sharing information or in discussions, whilst being mindful of the public interest.
Treat others with courtesy and respect.
Ensure all materials and communications do not misrepresent the relationship with the Valuation Office Agency.
- Professional Practice:
Ensure commitments and responsibilities are delivered upon consistently.
Take all reasonable steps to ensure information is accurate and, where necessary, supported by evidence that is factual, complete and objective.
- Competence and due care
Take all reasonable steps to prevent errors and inaccuracies – correcting them as soon as identified.
Maintain correct and up-to-date knowledge of the areas of rating and valuation practice dealt with.
Comply fully with all relevant legislation and regulations relating to professional activity.
Provide clear communications.
Respond to contact in a timely manner.
Be available and approachable.
Use expertise and experience to provide appropriate and correct advice.
When the standards aren’t met the VOA says it will try to engage with the agent to resolve issues but, if this fail, they can look at a host of penalties including temporarily blocking access to the VOA’s services, referrals to appropriate partners (e.g. HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service or the Advertising Standards Agency), and potentially refusing to deal with an agent altogether.
When appropriate, relevant professional bodies will also be informed directly about misconduct by their members through a Public Interest Disclosure.
The VOA states: “Most agents interact with the VOA professionally and respectfully, and maintain high standards. For the minority that do not, the VOA can, and will, take action to address poor behaviours and practices.”