What you need to know when using an estate agent

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (amended 2014) (CPRs) regulate estate agents and other businesses involved in property sales and lettings. The CPRs prohibit all traders from using unfair commercial practices in their dealings with individual consumers. Estate agents are prohibited from engaging in commercial practices that are unfair to sellers, buyers, potential sellers or potential buyers of residential property.

high rise buildings in a city

Those agents found to have breached either the CPRs  could be at risk of
prosecution by their local authority trading standards services who are responsible for enforcement by bringing criminal prosecutions. On conviction, agents can face substantial fines or in more serious cases imprisonment. Those classic descriptions of “Stunning” and “Highly sought after” now have to have evidence to back them up!

As a seller you have rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to services carried out with reasonable care and skill, but there are no legal regulations about what estate agents have to do to find you a buyer. So do your research to find the best estate agent for you depending on the services that they provide and their costs.

The Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act, 2007 requires all estate agents in the UK to register with an Estate Agents Redress Scheme which can investigate complaints from members of the public. From the 1st October 2014 all letting agents in England have also been obliged to join a scheme under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.

If you believe that an estate agent has not been acting in your best interests, has not been contacting buyers, provides inaccurate information or is discriminating against you etc., complain first to the manager or owner of the agency. If a chain you can then write to the head office. You can of course take your business elsewhere or withhold some of the agent’s fee. If you do the latter take legal advice first – you may be sued by the estate agent so you need to be very clear on your position.

If you cannot agree the fee with an estate agent for any reason, such as finding your own buyer, seek legal advice.

The Property Ombudsman Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agents is voluntarily followed by many estate agents. Estate agents who follow the Code of Practice are required to provide additional consumer protection that goes beyond that required by law. They can be recognised by the blue TPO logo which they will display on their literature, websites and office windows.

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For more advice, laws, consumer rights and template letters GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

How to complain about train journeys (or the lack of them!)

If your train is cancelled

If your train is cancelled you are due a full refund of the ticket price paid. If you still wish to travel you should be able to get on the next train then claim as for a delayed journey (see below). If you have a date and time restricted ticket you may not be able to get on a later train. You should check with the station staff before travelling who will be able to advise. If you don’t travel due to the cancellation you are entitled to a full refund of the ticket price paid.

If your train is delayed

If you don’t want to travel because of the delay then you should be able to get a full refund of the ticket price paid. It is the time of arrival not the time of departure that is considered. Under the National Rail Conditions of Travel you are entitled to 50% refund for a delay of over 60 minutes. However, most companies now operate a “Delay Repay” scheme, providing compensation for these delays regardless of cause. For most of the companies operating this scheme you will get at least 50% refund  current threshold is a delay of 30+ minutes, but a threshold of 15 minutes is being introduced between now and 2020 and at the point of going to print 9 companies have signed up to this.

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If you don’t travel out of choice

If you choose not to take the train journey for which you booked you should be refunded. It could be, for example, that an event to which you were travelling was cancelled so you didn’t want to travel. Or any reason! So long as it wasn’t an advance ticket you should be able to get a refund minus an administration fee. The maximum administration fee that the companies can charge is £10.

Season tickets and your rights

Different train companies operate different policies. You will need to check with the relevant company. You will need to submit a claim for each journey rather than a discount at renewal. The amount paid will depend on the specific company’s Passenger Charter.

Consequential loss from a delayed or cancelled train

The National Rail Conditions of Travel (NRCT) state that companies are not liable for consequential losses. For example, If you couldn’t make use of a hotel stay or theatre tickets. However, they do state that companies will consider exceptional cases. Since October 1st 2016 the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) now applies to travel, including trains. Under this act you are entitled to services to be carried out with reasonable skill and care. It would certainly be worth trying to claim using both the CRA and the exceptional circumstances of the NRCT.

On 10 March 2016 the National Rail Conditions of Travel finally removed the warning that operators will not accept liability for a “consequential loss” after delays or cancellations.

In September 2013, The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that rail passengers are entitled to a partial refund of the price of their train ticket even in poor weather circumstances.

Snowing on train

How to claim compensation from train delays and cancellations

If you don’t use your ticket to make all or part of your journey, take the unused ticket to any train company’s ticket office and receive an immediate refund.

For most train companies you can also apply online via the company’s website.

Alternatively you can send the claim to the train company by postal mail. Before you do, take a photo of the tickets just in case they get “lost in the post”!

Make sure you claim within 28 days of the date of travel.

Find your company on the National Rail Enquiries page which will take you to the relevant page.

Missed connection consequences

If you have missed a connecting train due to the cancellation or delay, you can claim a refund for the unused part of the journey should you not go on a later train or have to use an alternative form of transport. You could consider claiming for consequential losses, as above.

Train emergency timetables

Some train companies run what they describe as an “emergency timetable”. In these instances it is possible that this may affect what you can claim. If you bought your ticket before the new timetable was put in place and decide not to travel then you can claim a full refund, as above. However, should you travel and be delayed then the level of compensation will be based on the timings of trains according to the new timetable.

Not satisfied with response from the rail company?

If you think that the response from a train company is unsatisfactory, read the NRCT and the train company’s Passenger Charter which will have the details of the procedure you should follow. If you are still not happy and your journey was outside of London contact Transport Focus. For London (including under and overground) contact London Travel Watch. If after this you are still not happy you can take the matter to the CEO of Transport Focus or of London Travel Watch.

The Rail Ombudsman

The Rail Ombudsman was launched 26 November 2018. It is funded by the train companies which have all signed up to the service and are obliged to abide by the decisions it makes. You must have reached the end of the provider’s complaints procedure before taking the matter to the Rail Ombudsman.

The Rail Ombudsman can accept claims from England, Scotland and Wales.

Although rail companies are bound by the decision of the Rail Ombudsman, you are not. So, if you are not happy with the outcome and believe you have enough evidence to support a claim, you can go to the Small Claims Court.

Train track black and white how to complain about trains cancellations, delays and consequential loss