Over 50 estate agents in the rebel OnTheMarket Action Group have released details of a letter sent to the portal’s parent company, Agents’ Mutual.
The document is formally known as a Letter Before Action and sets out the agents' grievances. It was written by Ian Carson of Tollers LLP, the rebel agents' lawyers, and addressed to OTM and Agents’ Mutual chief executive Ian Springett.
A statement from the action group, summarising the letter, says:
“The estate agents believe they were misled by Agents Mutual over promises made on joining that their membership package, in particular their subscription fees would be more favourable than that offered to members who joined at a later date.
“The letter sets out the factual background of events before and after the launch of the OnTheMarket portal and then goes on to explain how these events have damaged their businesses.
“Some examples of the conduct engaged in by Agents Mutual cited in the letter are as follows:
“- Offering new joiners a twelve month or three-year contract rather than a five-year contract;
“- A flat fee of only £50 per month per office regardless of volume or location;
“- The option to join as a “subscriber” rather than a member, allowing new joiners to leave at any time without future liability;
“- Instances where Agents Mutual have removed agent’s properties from OnTheMarket.
“The Action Group members are seeking a number of remedies from Agents Mutual including rescission of their contracts and/or damages.”
A statement from Ian Carson of Tollers LLP says: “As the Letter Before Action demonstrates, our clients are very serious about their claims against Agents Mutual. It is hoped that matters can be resolved without recourse to litigation and we have invited Agents Mutual to attend a mediation. However, our clients are serious about pursuing legal action should it become necessary.”
And a statement from Nick Crayson, managing director of Crayson Estate Agents and a member of the action group, says: “As an early adopter and supporter of Agents Mutual, we made a significant commitment of time and money to helping OnTheMarket become a viable competitor to Rightmove and Zoopla.
“However, the way Agents Mutual have treated me and my business dismays me and so I am committed to ensuring that they are held to account.”
The group says OTM Gold or Silver members who consider they have been affected by these issues could join the rebels.
An OnTheMarket spokeswoman told Estate Agent Today this morning: "We understand that some agents are considering legal action against Agents' Mutual for alleged misrepresentations made in relation to pricing policy. We have no reason to believe that there are any grounds for such action. The Board and management team of Agents’ Mutual have at every stage of the company’s inception and development taken appropriate legal advice."