New Act will regulate estate agenty by 2008
Consumers are to receive greater legal protection from estate agents guilty of malpractice.
The Consumer, Estate Agents and Redress Act will provide an independent ombudsman to investigate complaints and, where appropriate, award compensation to buyers and sellers who have been badly treated.
At the present time 60% of estate agents belong to a voluntary scheme run by the Ombudsman for Estate Agents but the new legislation will require all estate agents to belong to a similar scheme and those who do not comply will be barred from operating.
The Act includes measures on doorstep selling and consumer representation. The same seven-day cancellation and cooling-off rights will be applicable to both solicited and unsolicited visits.
In addition, estate agents will need to keep written records for six years and will be required to allow these to be inspected without notice.
Consumer complaints about estate agents are common and those operating with the highest of professional standards are likely to welcome the new Act, as reports of a minority of disreputable operators sully the reputation of the sector as a whole. All parts of the new Act will come into force during 2008.