How To Make A Complaint About An Estate Agent

by Ian Grainger - Date: 2010-10-21 - Word Count: 716 Share This!

While many estate agents are honest, hard working and will provide an excellent service when it comes to buying or selling your home, there are a few that give the rest a very bad name.

That's why the whole estate agency industry has a bad reputation, especially in the United Kingdom. Fortunately for house buyers and house sellers there are several ways to try and ensure you use a reputable agent and several ways in which you can complain should you be unfortunate enough to fall foul of one of the 'bad guys'.

Ways To Choose A Good Estate Agent

There are a few things you can do and look for when choosing the estate agent you want, either as a buyer or seller.

One of the first things you can do is speak to people you know who have recently bought or sold a home and see who they used and whether or not they were happy with the service they received. Try to use a local agent too - if you're buying in Manchester, use a Manchester estate agent. They'll know the market better but they will, hopefully, have also built up a good reputation with local people.

Secondly, always check that the estate agent belongs to an approved redress scheme. Anyone operating under the Estate Agents Act 1979 must belong to such a scheme. There are two schemes, one from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) and one from the Surveyors Ombudsman Service (SOS).

Members of the TPO have to display the TPO logo and provide the TPO consumer guide to customers. Members of the SOS should provide you with a copy of their complaints handling procedure.

You could also check to see if the estate agent belongs to the National Association of Estate Agents, which has over 10,000 members, all of which must adhere to a strict code of conduct.

You should also read any contract very carefully before you sign and appoint an agent to sell your home. It will detail the fee you will pay on completion but also the length of time you're signed up with the agent. A reasonable amount of time for the agent to sell your home should be given, but be wary of contracts that tie you to an estate agent for a very long time.

Unfortunate Enough To Need To Complain? Here's How

If you're unlucky enough to have had a bad experience with an estate agent and you need to make a complaint then the first place you should start is wit the agency themselves.

Make a written, formal complaint detailing why you are complaining and what you would like done about it. If the estate agent is reputable they will do everything they can to address the issue.

If, however, you remain unhappy then you can register your complaint with the TPO or SOS if they were members of their redress schemes. If not, you can also complain to the Office of Fair Trading, The National Association of Estate Agents, the Guild of Estate Agents or the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, depending on your type of complaint and who the agent is a member of.

Your complaint must come under the Estate Agents Act 1979, which DOES require an estate agent:

to declare any personal interest that he or a connected person may have to a buyer or a seller ('connected person' means an employer, employee, wife, husband, brother, sister etc and includes partnerships and companies)
to set out his terms and conditions clearly in writing (it does not have to be in the form of a contract) before his client is contractually obligated
to treat prospective buyers fairly by not discriminating against them because they do not want to take any services from the agent eg arranging a mortgage, insurance cover
to forward all offers promptly and in writing to the seller, unless the seller has indicated that there are some offers that he does not want to receive
to provide his client with a list of all services offered to a buyer
to be honest as far as offers and prospective purchasers are concerned ie not to misrepresent the details/existence of any offer or the existence/status of any purchaser
to belong to an approved estate agents redress scheme.

But does NOT cover:

property renting
contractual matters
quality of service issues
overseas property transactions

Related Tags: complaints, estate agents, estate agents act 1979

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