Catch bad estate agentsPressure on Lords to stop agent tricks

17 November 2005

Which? is urging the House of Lords to take on the rogue estate agents who fleece and hoodwink homeowners.

A gap in current legislation allows dodgy estate agents to get away with dirty tricks such as not passing on all offers and insider trading.

But the House of Lords can plug this loophole when they vote on the Estate Agents (Independent Redress Scheme) Bill on Friday.

Jennifer Hodgson and her partner fell foul of estate agent dirty tricks when they tried to buy a flat in London in September.

They were told the owner would not accept their offer but when Jennifer eventually spoke to the owner, she not only accepted her offer but said she had never received it from the estate agent.

She suspected the offer wasn't passed on because she refused to use the estate agent's mortgage adviser - particularly when they told her if she did she would be able to offer more for the flat.

However, because the agent is not registered with any trade body she can't complain.

Independent ombudsman

But this could all change after Which? teamed up with Lord Dubs to introduce a significant change to the existing Estate Agents Act 1979.

It would force estate agents to join an independent ombudsman scheme which would enable people to complain and get compensation or redress without the expense and hassle of going through the courts.

Louise Restell, campaigns project manager, Which?, says: 'When people are making the biggest financial decision of their lives, they need to know they are not at the mercy of rogue estate agents.

'With nearly two million people buying and selling homes every year this is vital legislation: we urge the Lords to cast a 'yes' vote on Friday and for government to heed this.'

Lord Dubs agrees: 'This Bill seeks to protect home movers. It has the support of the good estate agents and will help bring the others up to the standards of the best.'