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How to protect yourself when using an estate agent

All you need to know when using an estate agent

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Buying a property when using an estate agent

False or misleading descriptions about properties are an offence under the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991. The PMA and the Order make it an offence to make false or misleading statements about ‘specified’ aspects of land (including buildings) offered for sale by those in an estate agency or property development business. This Act ensures that estate agents act in their clients’ best interests and that both buyers and sellers are treated fairly, honestly and promptly.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (amended 2014) (CPRs)
regulate estate agents and other businesses involved in property sales and lettings.

Selling a property through an estate agent

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. You can find the contact details for the CEO of the agency/chain by using www.ceoemail.com.

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

Consumers Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007 and Estate Agents Act 1979
Anyone with a complaint about an estate agent relating to residential property now has access to a free redress scheme.

Estate agents are required to have commissioned a Home Information Pack (HIP) prior to marketing any property.

Lettings using an estate agent

Landlords and agents can choose to register with The National Approved Lettings Scheme which sets certain standards.

Under The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (parts which come into force 27th May 2015):

  • lettings agents are required to include a description of each fee which explains the service that is covered by the cost or the purpose for which it is imposed.
  • as the list of fees covers charges to both landlords and tenants this improved transparency will highlight where agents are charging both parties for the same service.
  • these requirements will prevent an agent drip feeding fees to tenants meaning consumers will be more confident about the charges they will be expected to pay when renting a property and it should also encourage more competitive letting agents’ fees. 

From 01 June 2019 The Tenancy Act came into force in England. This bans estate agents from charging tenants for looking round a property,
setting up a tenancy, such as references and checks or for checking out of a property.

Further help when using an estate agent

The Property Ombudsman Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agents (includes lettings) 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.

An estate agent may be a member of an ombudsman service which you can use. Check with which ombudsman service your estate agent is a member:


The Property Ombudsman
Property Redress Scheme

Further help with complaints

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

For masses of information, tips, guidance, laws and regulations and templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

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Miscellaneous Topical

Scare the Trick or Treaters The Complaining Cow way!

Hallowe’en trick or treating

Back in 2012 I put in “Ideas for really frightening children at Halloween” into Google images. Up came a picture of Amy Childs and one of Boris Johnson. So look out for them trick or treating and make sure you scare them away so they don’t come back!

Dress your dog up for Halloween to scare the kids away

Trick or treating and the law

Right, I don’t care if you think Hallowe’en is great fun and a good opportunity to go round to people’s houses and let your kids annoy, inconvenience and scare people they don’t know. It’s begging okay? And not the begging by people who have been let down by the system and have  nowhere to live etc. Begging is a matter of life or death for them. You are not worried about dying from cold or hunger if you are out trick or treating. If you have friends with whom you have agreed for your child/ren to trick or treat with that is not begging. That is agreeing a game.

Going round to people’s houses and asking for sweets and money is begging and that’s illegal did you know? Begging is an offence under section 3 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 (as amended). It is a recordable offence.

Demanding something ‘with menaces’ is also illegal, and could also be construed as a public order offence as well. And the parents are considered liable for children under 10, and as ‘an accessory’ for those over 10.

There are even laws regarding children and adults being negligent and causing damage to property or people. See inBrief for more details.

Simples.

So many of the kids that do go begging don’t even make an effort with their costume, so they are lazy as well.

How many collect for charity? You do? Really? Where’s your ID and paperwork?

Trick or treating down our road

The kids round our way know that the witch lives at our house so don’t bother! The bull accidentally did a trick a few years ago. He told them to come back later when I was in. They did and I sent them away with “A don’t come begging at my door” still ringing in their ears as they went along their merry way. Good trick eh?

And look, a large selection of fun size treats. Bargains. And they are all for me.

Children trick or treating on their own is asking for trouble

On a cautionary note joking aside don’t let your kids go to doors of people they don’t know because it is rude, frankly. But if you must do it please please please go with them.

1) To stop them actually getting into trouble.

2) It’s not actually safe to let kids roam streets knocking on random doors you know! Some people won’t be told though… I used to run open access play schemes and children as young as five would be sent out on their own to play…

3) Someone vulnerable could be behind any door. No pumpkin on the doorstep? Leave the door alone. You could be responsible for scaring someone with a mental health issue into having a panic attack, an elderly person to be so scared that anything could happen. THINK.

Resources

Link to a poster to say no to trick or treating if you want to be a bit more polite than me at The Diary of a Frugal Family blog.

On Facebook I asked for some ideas for frightening children. Here are some tame and less tame ones should you need some inspiration.

What do you think of this?!

Tricks

1) Worm jelly
2) Push scary plastic hand through letterbox (with one finger missing optional)
3) Open door foaming at the mouth (milk shake or soap if you are feeling brave and shout “I have rabies”
4) Lie at the door under dark sheet and sit up and shout as the kids approach the door
5) Brussels wrapped up in foil and put in jelly
6) Race out of door dressed in white coat covered in fake blood and chainsaw in hand (blade not in there please!)
7) Let off fire extinguisher
8) Dress as the Black Reaper hidden in the darkness then just slowly appear as they walk towards the door
9) Dress your dog up like the picture
10) Cover onions in chocolate and put them on sticks
11) Put a sign up on the door saying “The Vagrancy Act 1824 (section 3) Enables the arrest of anybody who is begging”.
Or perhaps the most frightening of all….
12) Get The Complaining Cow to open the door…

 

Got any good ideas? Do please add them below!

And something a bit odd for Hallowe’en:

How Hallowe'en can be something different for you