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Agents' group's outburst over "law flouters" and "anonymous trollers"

The troubled trade group Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents - which has suggested it may not have enough support to formally launch - has issued a statement sharply critical of some independent agents themselves.

CIELA, which charges agents £35 a month if they want to join, is in what it describes as its "pre-launch consultation period"; until now its frequent, strident criticism has been aimed at corporate agencies, the online agency sector in general and Purplebricks in particular. Now it appears to have some independent agents in its sights.

Its latest statement says: "CIELA has been holding in depth discussions with founder members who, in turn, have been discussing the matter with their industry colleagues. The feedback has been fascinating and has shed light on the fact that the number of independent agents who do not comply with minimum legal requirements ... is possibly much larger than anyone to date has realised."

CIELA's statement then goes on to discuss the uncertainty over its future, saying that amongst founding members who have discussed the organisation with other independent agents "there is astonishment at the levels of negativity towards any attempt to form a collective voice" for the sector.

CIELA then describes many of its critics as "law flouters" and "anonymous trolls" of the type that leave comments on some trade news websites.

"These are precisely the independent agents whose conduct generates the bad press the industry receives, and they are a risk to the public" the statement alleges.

"They would appear, on initial inspection, to represent a larger section of the industry than all the corporates combined and, as a result, be the primary culprits behind the poor industry reputation" the statement adds.

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