Estate agents face new rules

23 July 2004
New rules have come into force compelling estate agents to sign up to an independent ombudsman scheme or face a dismissal from practising.

The government hopes the new regulatory framework will make it easier to crackdown on rogue firms.

"There are many good estate agents who provide value for money but there are some who do not come up to scratch," said trade and industry minister Gerry Sutcliffe.

"By beefing up enforcement and making it legal for estate agents to belong to an independent ombudsman-type scheme, we provide protection for consumers and honest estate agents and put the brakes on the rogues."

The National Association of Estate Agents particularly welcomed the announcement of compulsory membership for all agents.

The president of the NAEA Richard Hair said: "The plans for compulsory membership of an independent redress system are vital to protect the public throughout the home buying and selling process."

The move comes in response to a report by the OFT, which concluded that a compulsory compensation scheme was "essential".

Under the current system customers have little legal redress against rogue agents, unless the estate agent has signed up to the voluntary ombudsman for estate agents scheme.

However, less than 40 per cent of the UK's 30,000 agents have done so.