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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Trading Standards unveil property sales guidance

The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team has prepared a draft of revised guidelines on property sales, to replace the old guidance issued by the now-defunct Office of Fair Trading.

The draft has been passed to Estate Agent Today by the Independent Network of Estate Agents - a regular contributor to the work of government bodies and regulators, and listed on the draft guidelines as one of 12 bodies which reviewed this NTSEAT document. 

The draft is 47 pages long and concentrates on advising agents how to interpret the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008.

It applies, in its own words, “if you are an estate agent, a buyers' agent, an internet property retailer, a property auctioneer or a solicitor offering services that count as estate agency work ... sell property or land (for example if you are a property developer that markets and sells your own developments), and/or buy property or land for resale (for example if you are a company that buys up 'below market value' property as an investment opportunity), and/or provide some ancillary service related to any of the above.” 

One of the appendices to the report specifies other laws which may in some circumstances apply to agents or to elements of agents’ work - these now number 12, in addition to the CPRs and BPRs. 

Section six of the main document refers to enforcement of the regulations, and to the leeway given to local authority and Powys trading standards over judging an indiscretion to be part of a flawed systemic business practice or simply a one-off event. 

There is also a request for feedback on the draft, to be sent to the NTSEAT.

“We’ve been involved with CPRs and BPRs over the last five years where we disect current guidance and look at how the industry changes. We then host discussion groups with our members and prepare recommendations on how change might be applied to improve our industry and level the playing field for good agency practice and consumers” explains INEA founder and chief executive Trevor Mealham.

The full document is here and EAT is keen to hear your views on whether they are fit for purpose. 

  • Rookie Landlord

    Guidelines, guidelines, guidelines. Regulation, regulation, regulation. Can't people just be left to get on with the jobs? Don't you think estate and letting agents know what they're doing by now?

  • Algarve  Investor

    Clearly, as the From Russia with Cash programme showed, some agents can't be trusted to do it themselves and need their hands held along the way.

    As well as this, many young agents require no training or qualifications to become an agent - they simply learn on the job. Putting aside the foolishness of that - what other industry doesn't require its staff to have at least basic training? - it stands to reason that young agents might need a helping hand along the way. If older, more experienced agents are too busy to train them up, more mistakes are bound to be made. Guidelines like this will help to eradicate some of those mistakes. How is that not a good thing?

  • Trevor Mealham

    The Guidance is a good thing. Unfortunately, many agents whine about bad practices of some less ethical property traders, where such guidance can be referred back to Trading Standards to take action be it CPRs, BPRs, other regulation such as Money Laundering or advertising standards.

    If followed and used agency could be better. Equally, we now need NTSEAT to do their bit to rid the rogues out.

  • Neil Briggs

    Agreed Algarve and Trevor. Guidance and tips are always useful. Things are constantly changing and evolving in the property industry - new rules and regulations introduced, different schemes, government intervention, changes to stamp duty, mortgages and buy-to-let, etc.

    It's hard to keep up with, even if you've been in the industry for many years, so a resource like this is absolutely vital. If more agents followed best practice, we wouldn't have the sort of incidents we witnessed in From Russia with Cash.

  • Trevor Mealham

    @Neil & Algarve

    Unfortunately, the 'From Russia with Cash' wasn't all it seemed. ......... It was 1/2 good, but failed to show 'Tipping Off' the bit of legslation that had agents 'tipped' the Rusky off, they would have been in the wrong under UK law. It also failed to show what happened post viewing as thats when much of the AML proceedures kick in.

    On UK agents, unfortunately, not enough managers and directors take legislation and reform in. As such it doesn't get passed on for staff to comply by.

    Agents are also missing a big trick. By understanding guidance, they'd see what local rogue agents were doing more wrong. This intel could then be used to highlight bad agency to Trading Standards to get rid or discipline bad agents. Many of which are doing low harmful fees.

    So guidance reform - USE IT, OR OTHERS WILL ABUSE IT. ....

  • Emma  Mitchell

    Surely the more information given, the better? The industry in which we're in is incredibly fast-paced, so why not give us a hand in getting our heads around any new regulations. I'm certainly a fan!

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