Which? gets estate agent contracts changedTwenty five agents told to ditch unfair terms

19 July 2006

 

A row of terrace houses

All homes with 4 or more bedrooms will now need a HIP

Twenty five estate agents have had to remove or change unfair terms on their contracts after Which? reported them to the government.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) found the terms were detrimental to house sellers and breached the Estate Agents Act and consumer regulations.

It found some terms were unclear as to the duration of the contract period and also found fault with other contracts where the seller had to give their solicitor 'irrevocable authority' to pay the agent's fees.

The OFT said this could unfairly restrict the seller's right to withhold money if they thought the agent had provided an unsatisfactory service.

The OFT also said some terms required sellers to pay disproportionately high default charges on late payment of the agent's fees.

Fair and balanced contracts

Christine Wade, OFT Director of Consumer Regulation Enforcement said: ‘House sellers should be able to rely on fair and balanced contracts when using an estate agent to sell their property.

‘We will continue to challenge unfair terms in estate agents' contracts and we are grateful to Which? for bringing these matters to our attention.’

Louise Restell, who leads the Which? campaign to improve estate agents, said: ‘We welcome this but there is clearly still a big issue with getting redress when you've had problems with an estate agent.

‘We are still waiting for the government to make it compulsory for all estate agents to join a redress scheme such as an ombudsman.’

According to recent reports only 60 per cent of estate agents are members of the Ombudsman for Estate Agents scheme.