An online estate agency delisted by Rightmove for apparently breaching its terms and conditions has accused the portal of “gross abuse” of its position having based its action on “unsubstantiated claims.”
OwnerSellers.com charges zero per cent commission but charges for many individual components in a transaction, such as EPCs and For Sale boards. Rightmove says it is unhappy at the agency’s business model and has removed its listings.
The dispute is believed to be around the display of vendors’ personal telephone numbers.
However, now the website - which still carries the Rightmove logo on its home page despite a request to remove it from the portal itself - has come out fighting with a statement issued over the weekend. It was headed ‘Rightmove delists free estate agent on basis of false allegations’.
“This is the future for estate agency and clearly Rightmove doesn’t like it. We have now been audited no fewer than four times in the last 12 months by the portal, which is more than any other agent in the history of the industry” claims OwnersSellers’ founder Rupert Cattell.
“This latest claim, that our sale boards display our vendors’ phone numbers, is completely false. We protect our clients and vet every enquiry before forwarding on any details. Photographic evidence has been provided to support our argument, and yet they [Rightmove] are delisting the site for 28 days after which they will carry out an unprecedented fifth audit. This is a gross abuse of their position” he says.
“We can only assume that Rightmove sees us as an existential threat to their business model and to that of many high street agents, and they are doing their level best to stop us from delivering a service that vendors want” claims Cattell, who suggests the portal is helping maintain “Rip-Off Britain” where vendors are forced to pay agents commissions.
A Rightmove spokesperson told Estate Agent Today: "Rightmove's terms and conditions and membership criteria are designed to protect users, for example by ensuring that all property details appearing on Rightmove are reliable and that agent members have actually visited those properties, and also to ensure that all members comply with relevant UK legislation.
“We conduct a diligent but fair vetting process in respect of all applicants and we would refuse membership to any business that failed to meet those criteria. We also vet existing members again from time to time to ensure that they continue to meet those criteria and, where that vetting process reveals that an existing member does not meet those criteria, that member's contract is terminated.
“If a business in that position makes the changes needed to bring their operations back into compliance with our membership criteria then it would, after a 28 day period, be permitted to become a member again. Rightmove applies these criteria and its vetting processes to all members in a fair and consistent way."