Estate agents’ ombudsman scheme postponed
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has delayed plans to introduce ombudsman services for estate agents.
The £185 billion-a-year industry is currently self-regulated but under new legislation all estate agests will be required to join an ombudsman service.
The scheme was due to come into effect on 6th April and four ombudsman services have applied for endorsement but the OFT is still finalising procedures and the start date has been postponed.
The services that have applied are: Ombudsman for Estate Agents; The Surveyors’ Ombudsman Service Limited; IDRS Ltd and The Register of Estate Agents.
Once implemented, the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act of 2007 will prevent estate agents from operating if they are not attached to an approved ombudsman service.
At the end of 2006, only around 60% of estate agents were members of ombudsman schemes and a disproportionate number of complaints emanated from those who were not.
Mark McLaren, spokesman for consumer group Which?, comments: “We have been waiting four or five years for this. We do not know what the reason for the delay is but we hope any delay will be very short.”
Adding: “We strongly support all estate agents being members of complaints schemes.”