If your estate agent has lied to you about a property in order to secure a sale, there’s a good chance that they have violated the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. As such, you could be entitled to some compensation.
The level of compensation depends on the significance of the lie, but we received £500 from Reeds Rains after they failed to inform us about planning permission on a nearby field even though they were aware of it.
Claiming your compensation is straightforward:
1. Write a letter of complaint to the estate agent itself detailing your grievance and what you would like for them to do to make it right. Include any supporting evidence that you have.
The estate agent will either accept your complaint and put things right or, as Reeds Rains did with us, respond with nonsensical bullshit.
2. If your estate agent chooses the latter approach, check which dispute resolution scheme they are a member of. Most are members of the Property Ombudsman (TPO) but as this industry does not have a statutory ombudsman, some estate agents choose a different scheme.
You MUST attempt to resolve the problem with the estate agent directly before involving the dispute resolution service and they will ask to see the estate agent’s “final viewpoint” before getting involved.
Send all of the supporting evidence for your claim, along with all correspondence between the estate agent and yourself, to the dispute resolution scheme.
3. Wait a couple of months for them to review the case, and assuming your claim was valid (and that your case was air-tight), collect the compensation that is awarded.
Important: Note that you have 6 years (5 in Scotland) from the date of purchase in which to make your complaint.
Also note that the dispute resolution schemes – the Ombudsman included – are all funded by their members, which means the estate agent is paying the service an annual fee. For larger estate agents like Reeds Rains, this annual fee runs into the tens of thousands of pounds and as such they can be considered to be valuable clients of the scheme.
With that in mind, claims made by the scheme that it is fair and impartial can be considered to be completely false so you will need to ensure that your case is air-tight.
If the scheme can find any way to protect their client and either side with them in the dispute or at least limit the amount of compensation in disputes that are irrefutable, they will do so. After all, if the agent isn’t satisfied by the service provided by a given scheme, they are free to switch to an alternative!
A black and white example of the Property Ombudsman (TPO) sabotaging a complaint in order to protect a member can be found here. So make sure not to allow any room for defensive manoeuvring.
In cases where the dispute resolution service in question is the Property Ombudsman (TPO), if you believe it has acted improperly then be sure to report it to the Ombudsman Association.