The Office of Fair Trading has today issued guidelines to help ALL companies and individuals involved in property sales identify trading practices that might potentially breach current legislation and mend their ways http://www.oft.gov.uk/OFTwork/estate-agents/guidance-overview/ . These include activities such as:
- Falsely claiming membership of a professional body
- Unfairly comparing services (and performance) of competitors
- Misdescribing property for sale or leaving out important details
- Exerting undue pressure on speed of decision making
- Demanding surveys be skipped or insisting on (tame) conveyancers
- Not having an effective customer complaints procedure
The OFT announced today that The Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 will be repealed, as they believe the public would be better protected and less confusion would ensue if only the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, and The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 Acts were to govern all property intermediaries’ activities. The Estate Agents Act 1979 will remain in force but many agents felt that it was now too narrow and hampered them in their efforts to compete with internet and supermarket sites which have previously escaped much property legislation.
TREVOR KENT former president of The National Association of Estate Agents and property broadcaster says “ I am delighted that others in the property transfer field have been reminded they fall under this legislative control. Respectable estate agents have for some time experienced builders, internet property retailers, some auctioneers and even solicitors who have successfully found ‘wriggle-room’ to avoid much of the legislative control we agents alone have been subject to. I just hope that Trading Standard Services around the country will get these new rules out to the more obscure, sometimes ‘bedroom-based’ untrained operators, rather than concentrate on the ‘easy-to-find’ high street firms who know the rules and, by and large, keep to them”.
Trevor Kent is a former president of The National Association of Estate Agents and a long time property commentator with his own agency in Gerrards Cross, Bucks.