Your estate agent has a legal obligation to act professionally on your behalf. If you feel misled, mistreated or fear illegal activity has taken place, you’re within your rights to officially complain.
In many cases following a complaint, an estate agent will do what they can to resolve any issues and any problems will be rectified successfully. In the event that you wish to take a complaint further, there’s plenty of info and guidance to help you do so.
Legal Requirements for Estate Agents
Estate agents must not deliberately mislead any property seller or potential buyer. These are the rules all estate agents are expected to adhere to (see the Estate Agents Act 1979 and Unfair Contract Terms Act):
- Provide details of all fees in writing before they agree to act for you.
- If they plan on using the 'sole selling rights', 'sole agency' or 'ready, willing, and able purchaser' terms in their contact, they need to explain these to you in writing.
- Make sure any information they provide is accurate and honest. This means they can’t falsely claim to be a member of a professional body or misrepresent a property on their books.
- Ensure potential buyers have all relevant and important info needed to make informed decisions.
- Act in a professional and paced manner. This means agents can’t rush into putting in offers, raising prices and skipping surveys. They may not show bias towards or against any potential buyers and are legally required to pass on any offers to the seller.
- Every estate agent, including on-line firms, should be registered with The Property Ombudsman.
How do I make my complaint?
If you wish to pursue your complaint and take it beyond an agent’s internal procedures, the next step is to take your case to The Property Ombudsman. This body will hear your complaint and refer it for investigation and review. Any awards given in favour of the customer are usually relatively small, between £100-£500, but the award rate is pretty high with around 40% being granted a redress.
Most agents are also members of the national Association of Estate Agent (NAEA) or the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). If an agency is in breach of a code of practice or rules of membership they can face disciplinary action.