Estate agency ombudsman approved by Office of Fair Trading

Estate agency ombudsman approved by Office of Fair Trading

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has given the Ombudsman for Estate Agents Company Limited (OEA) approval for its estate agents’ redress scheme.

The move follows the passing of the Consumer Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007, which will take effect from 1st October, when all estate agents have to be members of an approved ombudsman service.

The scheme provides an independent and impartial means of settling complaints between those members of the public who buy, sell or let property and the agents acting of their behalf.

The service is free to consumers and the ombudsman has the power to make a range of awards, including the payment of compensation.

The ombudsman’s decision is binding on the estate agent, although a complainant can choose to reject the decision and pursue their complaint through the courts.

The start date of the scheme has been delayed from April and the OFT is still in the process of considering bids from two other companies set up to deal with consumers’ complaints about estate agents.

The majority of estate agents are already members of voluntary ombudsman schemes but according to OFT data, those who are not have historically generated a disproportionate number of complaints.

Firms who are already full members of the OEA need take no action as they will automatically meet the requirements of the Act.

However, where membership is for HIP redress purposes only, firms will need to upgrade before the October deadline.

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