A Call For Estate Agents to be Regulated!
Last week I had the opportunity to experience one of Bristol’s estate agents in action. The company amazingly claims to have twenty-five years experience and yet simple elements to a very basic transaction were missing. However what they missed out in skill, it was lavished in pride and arrogance.
The appointment was booked – on arriving at the front door of the property – the Agent makes a Rookie mistake by not taking the right keys for the enquired property. So off to the next flat, no advert – no information and therefore the need to waffle one’s way through such circumstances – always sounds professional until you move-in.
The application form noted that if you were British – no passport was required to show proof of residence. Therefore being an ethnic minority does mean that this does apply to us lot because unlike the many “white” British who don’t possess a passport – we had to come into the UK needing a passport?
Thereafter the agent sends an email requesting the money for fees and deposit – all due diligence was unnecessary as the agent was hoping to cash-in on a 100% profit without paying for the vetting agency to process the application. No invoice was issued, no receipts for the monies collected – a total Mickey Mouse operation. It was until the complaints began and the questions began that the agency realised that these ethnic were not the typical foreigners who were willing to be bullied.
Estate Agents in the UK don’t need to have studied or show any credentials. They merely need a good suit, shiny shoes and waffle. However what most people don’t realise is that there are specific legislation prescribed which protects the consumer and they will do well by not believing every word which comes out of an agent’s mouth.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t believe that ALL estate agents are without qualifications, prejudiced and hopeless liken this experience. As there are some who are genuinely hard-working and client driven rather than those who are spineless money grabbing opportunists.
Read on to find out what to do if you have a problem with a property agent.
Complain directly to the agent
As always, you should speak first to the agent directly raising any concerns you may have with them in the first instance.
You should always give the agent a chance to put things right before escalating your complaint.
Be mindful that the agent might not be able to resolve your complaint immediately so it’s worth establishing how long they think it could take.
If you’re unhappy with the way your agent is dealing with your complaint, you should make a formal complaint and go through the agent’s internal complaints procedure.
Escalate your complaint
LETTING AGENTS AND MANAGEMENT AGENTS
From 1 October 2014, all letting and property management agents are required to be a member of one of three compulsory redress schemes.
The schemes are designed to ensure tenants and leaseholders have a straightforward option to hold their agents to account.
The three compulsory schemes for letting and managing agents are:
The schemes will offer independent investigation of complaints about hidden fees or poor service.
The majority of letting agents are already signed up with one of the three organisations but the remaining 3,000 agents – 40% of the entire industry – must have signed up by 1 October 2014.
You can check with the different schemes to see if your letting agent is a member. If they are not, you have grounds to complain to your local trading standards department.
However, each local authority has the power to decide whether they apply a ‘grace’ period or not.
And remember, ombudsmen will not usually deal with a complaint until you’ve exhausted your agents’ own internal complaints procedure, and have been unable to reach a satisfactory resolution.
Estate agents must also belong to an ombudsman scheme so that complaints about them can be dealt with quickly and easily.
This became mandatory in 2007 by virtue of the Consumers Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007.
You can use our template letter to ask the Property Ombudsmanto intervene in your dispute.
Complain to a trade association
If you’re unhappy with the service or the treatment you’ve received from your estate agent, members of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) are bound by strict rules.
Check the NAEA website to see if your estate agent is a member.
The NAEA can take disciplinary action on your behalf if your agent hasn’t protected and promoted your interests.
The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) is the UK’s professional body for letting agents.
If you have a complaint against an ARLA member, they can investigate this matter for you.
The Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) is a trade association for residential property management agents.
This is usually applies to leasehold property where the agent manages the whole building on behalf of the freeholder – whereas letting agents may manage individual flats within the building on behalf of individual owners.
All ARMA members must offer access to an independent ombudsman scheme where unresolved disputes can be addressed.
Check the ARMA website to see if your managing agent is a member.
If they are, ARMA can ensure that complaints are handled well by their members, but if your complaint remains unresolved, then you can take the matter to the ombudsman.
If you need further assistance – please don’t hesitate to contact us.