Making a claim against your Estate Agent

31st January 2015 by

 

Contact us today if you feel you have been let down by your estate agent.  We offer free initial advice on your claim and if you do wish to proceed we offer a “No Win No Fee” service in a form of a Conditional Fee Agreement.

Real estate agents do not enjoy an unblemished reputation – however, this does not mean that each one is dishonest, misleading or negligent. In fact, most provide a good, honest service, but some do make mistakes, and whether a mistake has been made through incompetence or malpractice, if a buyer, seller or landlord suffers financial loss as a result, a suitably qualified professional negligence solicitor may be able to help the client claim compensation.

Indemnity insurance

Estate agents are largely unregulated, but all agents are required to register with an Estate Agents Redress Scheme so that an complaints made by the public can be investigated. The Property Ombudsman (TPO) provides an approved scheme under the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007.​ Members of the TPO scheme are required to have suitable levels of professional indemnity insurance (PII) in place.

All estate agents should have indemnity insurance in place to cover against the possibility of liability for claims of professional negligence. Claims can be made against this insurance for a range of matters, including incorrect or harmful advice, the loss of vital documents or the breach of confidentiality agreements.

Always check that your agent has PII, so that you can be assured, in the event of a claim, they will have the requisite cover to pay compensation.

Regulation of Estate Agents

The Estate Agents Act of 1979 is the piece of legislation which regulates the activities of estate agents.

The act requires agents to act in the best interests of clients and to treat all interested parties fairly. Provisions are included for enforcement, bans and fines in cases of negligence and misconduct.

In addition there are other regulatory instruments which have relevance to the standards and expectations that apply to the work of estate agents working in the UK, these include the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 and Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007.

However, there is little in the way of stringent regulation of estate agent activities and anyone can set up work as an estate agent, even without professional qualifications.

In 2010 Peter Bolton King, the chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), criticised the Office of Fair Trading for its failure to ensure a stricter regulatory regime.

“Buying a home is often the largest single transaction of a person’s life and it is disappointing that the OFT has not thought it appropriate to acknowledge that a robust and appropriate level of consumer protection is needed,” he said.

He added, “This inconsistency is very difficult to understand given that the same agents and firms often deal with sales and lettings. The NAEA would like to see more regulation to ensure that professional, qualified estate agents are not confused with those who fail to meet the basic professional standards we would expect from our members. The need for consumer protection in the form of a more professional industry is the driving force behind our plans to introducing a licensing scheme for our members later this year.”

Complaints about estate agents

Where appropriate a complaint about the activities of an estate agent may be registered with one of the following organisations, the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA), the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Additionally, The Property Ombudsman (TPO) allows members of the public to make complaints about TPO-registered estate agents, whether the complaint relates to sales or lettings.

Proving professional negligence against an estate agent

Proving professional negligence against an estate agent can be a complex process and is likely to require the specialist advice of a solicitor.

For a case to succeed, the claimant must establish that the estate agent owed him or her a duty of care and that there was a breach of that duty which resulted in financial loss.

Misleading information, misrepresentation and over- or under- valuations are some of the most common reasons clients proceed with negligence litigation against estate agents.

Healys professional negligence solicitors in Brighton and London

Healys provides quality and trustworthy advice to clients across the country. Our professional negligence solicitors in London and Brighton can be reached by call-back form, by emailing partner Robert Johnson or calling directly on 020 7822 4106