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Estate Agents sign up to ombudsman scheme

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by Gill Montia

Membership of the Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA) scheme rose by 60% last year, following the introduction of Home Information Packs.

Compulsory membership of an ombudsman scheme was due to have been introduced for estate agents in April of this year but has been delayed.

The OEA is one of three schemes bidding for approved status from the Office of Fair Trading but until the new law comes into force it continues to offer an independent service resolving disputes between member agencies and consumers.

By the end of 2007, the OEA redress scheme covered 12,344 estate agency branches across the UK and the rise in membership saw a 48% increase in complaints about residential property sales, to 870.

According to ombudsman Christopher Hamer: “The majority of disputes … are the result of failings by agents’ administration, such as the organising of viewings or in maintaining the security of keys to a property being marketed, rather than any suggestion of malicious intent.”

Commenting on the introduction of compulsory membership of an ombudsman scheme, Mr Hamer says: “If the new law is to have teeth, then it needs to bring results within a reasonable time, so that disputes do not become protracted and consumers disillusioned.”

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News posted: March 18, 2008

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