What you need to know when using an estate agent

Your rights when selling a your property through 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.

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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.

House with lots of grass around. estate agents and your rightsHow to take charge of your home removal provides information and tips for when you move house.

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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!

6 Top Tips for problems with builders/ painters & decorators

paintProblem with a builder or painter decorator? Need to know what to do to resolve things? Follow these specific tips first when employing a builder or painter and decorators. But if it’s too late here’s what you can do:

1) Try to resolve the matter in person or over the ‘phone before formally writing if you have a complaint.

2) Give the trader an opportunity to remedy the work. If they refuse to do this or they fail to do it satisfactorily then you can take the matter further.

3) Ensure that you state that you retain your legal rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 so that you are still able to claim if necessary afterwards when you write to complain.

4) Should the trader not respond or not remedy the work, proceed with getting an independent report and 3 quotes.   Get the work done and write to the trader requesting this amount attaching the paperwork. You could attach a quote before the work is done to give the trader one last chance if you wish.

5) If the trader is a member of a trade association you can contact it and see if you are able to use a resolution scheme.

6) If all else fails and you have the evidence you can go the Small Claims Court. I took a builder to court (details in the book) and won.

Supply and fitting – your rights

The Defective Premises Act 1972 relates to work undertaken by builders, developers, surveyors and architects. “Defective” in legal terms means work causing the property to be unfit for habitation as a result of design, workmanship or materials. Improvement, small jobs and refurbishments are not covered by this Act but use the Consumer Rights Act 2015 instead.

What if you buy the kitchen and installation from the same company? The same principle applying to kitchen fitting also applies to other goods. You wouldn’t get a full refund on a Rolls Royce because the iPod dock didn’t work! So, it is possible that you won’t get a full refund when only part of the kitchen is messed up.

Should you be thinking about legal action against a company who provided and fitted anything at your property, be aware that a precedent was set in 1995. The case of Ruxley Electronics and Construction Ltd v Forsyth. Ruxley built a swimming pool in Forsyth’s garden. The contract involved a diving area of 7 feet 6 inches in depth.Once finished it was only 6 feet 9 inches deep but it was safe and the pool value was not affected. Forsyth wanted the pool demolished and rebuilt, at an estimated additional cost of £21,540.

The judge rejected the “cost of cure” damages, ruling that it was unreasonable but awarded “loss of amenity damages” of £2,500. The court of appeal then ruled that Forsyth should be put back into the position he was in before the pool was built.

Ruxley then appealed to the House of Lords. Lord Mustill’s ruling on the matter concluded that one must look to ‘the loss truly suffered by the promisee’ and reverted back to the award of £2,500.

This means therefore that if you have a poorly-made kitchen you are unlikely to get a full refund if it is still usable!

New houses

The Consumer Code for Homebuilders is an industry-led code of conduct for builders, which was developed to make the home buying process fairer and more transparent for purchasers and is adopted by the main warranty providers. The Code consists of requirements and principles that home builders must meet in their marketing and selling of homes and their after-sales customer service. As part of this code warranty providers must provide a complaint procedure. There is a dispute resolution scheme to deal with complaints within two years of buying a home, if builders don’t comply with the code. The scheme can award up to £15,000.

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You can find numerous template letters, advice, consumer laws and tips for complaining to traders and more in the best-selling book GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!